The Vikings had very answers for not scoring any touchdowns Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, but head coach Brad Childress made one thing clear: Tarvaris Jackson will be the Vikings' starting quarterback next week against the Carolina Panthers.
"He is definitely our quarterback next week," Childress said.
That proclamation came after the Vikings offense converted only 2 of 13 third downs – a 15 percent conversion rate – with Jackson completing 14 of 24 passes for 130 yards.
"We didn't throw the football a lot today, but whenever we do we have to make sure we capitalize on it. There are things that we should (have done) if we got to make routine plays. We didn't make those plays today. I know I didn't," Jackson said.
The Vikings advance into Colts territory on their first eight possessions, including two trips inside the 20-yard line, but they didn't get one touchdown out of those opportunities.
"We preached that the whole week. Last week we did the same thing, got to the red zone and kicked field goals. We pretty much knew, we had a feeling, well I know I had a feeling, that if we didn't get sevens they were going to win the game," Jackson said. "We can't keep getting to the red zone and getting threes. We know what the offense is capable of so we got to do a better job. Whatever we call we have to execute it. We just have to do a better job with that. We lacked execution in the red zone, period."
Jackson did get one throw into the end zone on the Vikings' third drive of the game and fired for tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, who had the ball in his hands but couldn't control it before hitting the ground.
"I thought we had a couple runners open. Then when they are open, we make a great throw to Visanthe and he's got to come up with it when he goes to the ground. That changes the complexion of things," Childress said.
"We just gave them the game, and that is the worst kind of loss when we give them the game," Shiancoe said. "… I did have possession of it, but you cannot make it indecisive like that. I put that on me."
A touchdown there would have given the Vikings a 10-0 advantage. Instead, they had to settle for a second field goal and 6-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
"Nobody is perfect," Jackson said of Shiancoe's drop. "We want the touchdown and it's hard, but we have to look past those things and keep playing because the next play is the most important play."
Actually, the Vikings had several more "most important plays" but failed on the vast majority of their third-down attempts. Their only third-down conversion in the first half came on an illegal contact penalty on the Colts defense.
Eventually, the fans began to boo the performance of the passing game and Jackson. Although Bobby Wade said he didn't think Jackson was the type of quarterback to let the boos get to him, the quarterback did say he heard them.
"You try to please everyone. You try to make people happy. You want to make people cheer, but we are frustrated just like they are frustrated so I can understand. We just got to make them cheer next time," Jackson said.
The main problem was simply coming away with no touchdowns in the game. After driving into Colts territory on every one of their first-half possessions, the Vikings didn't get past their own 40-yard line on four of their final five possessions.
Running back Adrian Peterson, who gained 118 of his 160 yards in the first half, said the Colts started to bring safety Bob Sanders down in the box in the second half to take away Peterson's cutback moves.
"They brought nine guys into the box, but still, we were able to move the ball. We just didn't come up with the big play when we needed it," Peterson said. "We didn't come up with the big play, and it hurt us. It came back to bite us."
"The defense did a great job holding, keeping that (Colts) offense off the field. Offensively we need to do a better job of putting points on the board, period. That's a fact."
Jackson said that he did have opportunities in the passing game outside, but starting wide receivers Sidney Rice and Bernard Berrian were held without a catch. Jackson said it's a bit more complicated than taking advantage of a count in the box.
"We got one-on-ones on the outside. It's more than just that, though. You can say, ‘There are eight guys in the box, you should be able to throw the football.' It's not as easy as that," Jackson said. "So I just got to find a way to get guys the ball and guys got to find a way to get open and just execute. That's all we got to do."
Passing blues a hot topic
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