Lurtsema's Reaction: Mental Mistakes

While the Vikings continue to scratch and claw to remain competitive in games, there are far too many instances of mental mistakes. Young team or not, those should be cleared up by now.

Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. It's rather obvious by now that every game in which the Vikings have had more turnovers than their opponent, they've lost. Having lost all road games this year and never leading in the first quarter in those games can take a lot of emotion out of a football team. This team seems to fight back, but enough is enough.

Time after time, the Vikings meet adversity with an opportunity, but nearly every time a mental mistake or a poor decision kills their chances. Take this week. They have great preparation all week, and then on the opening kickoff they have an unfortunate fumble that allows Tampa Bay to score a quick touchdown.

That can be deflating, but I must say this Vikings team was competitive all day, as it continued to try to fight back. Down seven, the Vikings offense scored on the next possession on a 40-yard touchdown pass to Randy Moss. But the momentum swing wouldn't happen, as the touchdown was called back by a very questionable holding call.

The Vikings later executed a perfect onside kick, giving them a great opportunity to possibly put the game into overtime, where at least they'd have another shot at winning the game. Then, on the very next play after the perfectly executed kick, Warren Sapp got an interception after the Vikings had kicked his fanny at the line of scrimmage. Even on fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter when the Vikings stopped the Bucs, once again there was no positive result. All the while, it was clear the Vikings were still fighting.

But defensively it fell apart. Every quarterback that plays against the Vikings, except the previous week against Chicago, seems to go absolutely nuts. This week, one of the truly first-class people to play for the Minnesota Vikings, Brad Johnson, had his record-setting day. He tied a Tampa Bay record by throwing five touchdowns (his personal best, as well) and ended up with a quarterback rating of 148.3. Here was a Tampa Bay offense that had not thrown a touchdown pass in 12 quarters — not even scoring a touchdown in the last nine quarters — and it illustrates why the Vikings are the 31st-rated team against the pass.

It once again opened my eyes to how bad our defensive coverages are. I know the coaches prepare the team well, but how many mental mistakes can they continue to have with a casual explanation that they're a young team? They'll be going into the 13th game of the season (including the preseason), and the light bulb should go on at some time to make them aware that there is no room for mental mistakes. To get beat physically, as everyone who has ever played this game has had it handed to him at one time, is something that a fan can live with. But mental mistakes, I'm sorry, there is no place for them.

The Tampa Bay defense was the top-rated unit in the National Football League and the Vikings put up 24 points. Yet they were blown out not only because of mental mistakes but some very poor decisions, as well, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

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