PASSING OFFENSE: C-minus — After winning his first start as the Vikings quarterback, Gus Frerotte was on the losing end this time. He didn't get much help from his teammates. Wide receiver Bernard Berrian failed to hold onto two passes he had a good chance to catch in the first half, including a deep strike that might have gone for a touchdown. Frerotte completed 25 of 43 passes for 266 yards with no touchdowns, an interception and a sub-par 66.6 passer rating. It didn't help matters that the 37-year-old took a beating from the Titans defense (four sacks) and was slow to get up on three occasions. He was forced from the game late in the fourth quarter and had to get two stitches in his left (non-throwing) hand. Frerotte's interception came with 3:55 left in the final quarter when he was hit as he was attempting a pass to tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. The ball sailed on Frerotte and was picked off by Titans cornerback Nick Harper. One play later the Titans scored their final touchdown. It was the third TD the Titans had scored off Vikings turnovers. Fullback Naufahu Tahi lost the ball after a 2-yard catch in the first quarter and the Titans recovered at the Minnesota 33-yard line.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C — The Vikings fell behind 10-0 in the first quarter and were playing catch-up the entire game. This meant Minnesota was not able to establish the run as much as it would have liked. The Vikings' 20 rushing attempts as a team marked the first time this season Minnesota did not run the ball more than 30 times. Adrian Peterson, slowed in the Vikings' Week 3 victory over Carolina because of a sore hamstring, had 18 carries for 80 yards and two touchdowns. His longest run went for 28 yards and a score but for the most part the physical Titans defensive line did a good job against the Pro Bowl running back. Peterson also lost a fumble deep in Vikings territory in the second quarter and the Titans ended up turning that into a touchdown. Chester Taylor and quarterback Gus Frerotte had one carry apiece and neither gained a yard. In the first three games, the Vikings had rushed for 187 yards, 180 yards and 119 yards, respectively.
PASS DEFENSE: C-plus — This unit did an acceptable job giving up 199 yards passing to veteran quarterback Kerry Collins. Collins completed 18 of 35 passes and did not have a touchdown or an interception. Collins did have some time to work in the pocket as the Vikings failed to apply consistent pressure and for the second time this season did not get to the quarterback. Collins did gash the pass defense on the Titans' opening series, completing passes of 18, 16, 13 and 7 yards. That drive ended with Titans kicker Rob Bironas hitting a 20-yard field goal. Collins' longest pass of the day was a 28-yard completion to wide receiver Justin Gage in the second quarter that helped to set up another field goal. Gage finished with a team-leading five catches for 92 yards.
RUSH DEFENSE: B — Chris Johnson was able to use his speed to get around the corner on a few occasions and rushed for 61 yards on 17 carries with two touchdowns. Johnson's longest carry went for 9 yards.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C — As with most areas of their game Sunday, the Vikings had their share of miscues. Ryan Longwell's 48-yard field-goal attempt to end the first half hit the right upright, Robert Ferguson was called for a holding penalty wiping out 10 yards from a Maurice Hicks kick return and Titans kickoff return man Chris Carr followed a Minnesota touchdown with a 52-yard return to the Vikings 47-yard line. The Titans did not score on the ensuing drive, but a Craig Hentrich punt pinned the Vikings at their own 2. Punt returner Charles Gordon averaged 6.3 yards on three returns. The bright spot might have been that Hicks averaged 27.5 yards on four kick returns and is likely to take the job. Hicks was signed as a free agent from San Francisco in the offseason in large part because of his ability on kick returns. He did not play in the first two games because of an injury and did not get to return kicks until Sunday.
COACHING: C-minus — Perhaps the biggest indictment here is that Brad Childress' team did not look prepared to play what was a crucial game against the Titans. The loss dropped them to 1-3 heading into next Monday night's game at New Orleans. The Vikings had far too many miscues, including four turnovers that led to 21 points for the Titans and five penalties in the third quarter that killed opportunities. Childress held middle linebacker E.J. Henderson out for the opening drive for disciplinary reasons.
Grading the game: Titans
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