The Vikings built a one-touchdown lead in the first half partly because of Adrian Peterson's early success. In the second half, he only ran the ball six times and the Vikings were outscored 13-0. Plus, get more than 40 notes that help tell the tale of the game.
One aspect of the Vikings offense that has been readily apparent all season is that Adrian Peterson
is the catalyst that ignites the Vikings' offensive engine. Through the first nine games of the season, Peterson had topped 100 yards six times, including each of the last four games – three of those Vikings wins and the other a heartbreaking 45-41 loss at Chicago that was no fault of his own.
For the first half of Sunday's game, "All Day" was a dominating force, rushing 13 times for 71 yards and helping lead the Vikings to a 13-6 lead. But in the second half, he was almost invisible. In the second half of the game, Peterson ran just six times for 14 yards. While the Buccaneers dominated time of possession, Peterson's six runs were the only rushes the Vikings had in the second half.
Peterson's frustration was evident as he had an animated exchange with running backs coach Eric Bienemy on the sideline. The ending of his consecutive 100-yard rushing streak was clearly secondary to the Vikings losing the game, but the formula for success for the Vikings winning games has been and remains getting the ball in the hands of their best playmaker and letting him do what he does best.
Head coach Brad Childress likes to refer to statistician Bud Goode's tenant that it's the quantity of the run over the quality of the run that matters more. Six rushes in the second half for a star running back wasn't enough quantity. On Sunday, it was a different explanation.
‘He's not going to run for 200 yards every game and he's not going to hit a home run every play," Childress said.
The Vikings failed to get Peterson the ball enough in the second half Sunday and the result was self-evident – being outscored 13-0 in the second half and dropping to 5-5 on the season.
As disappointing as Sunday's loss was, thanks to a 37-3 blowout win by the Packers over Chicago, the Vikings remain tied for first place in the division – except now it's a three-way tie between Minnesota, Green Bay and Chicago.
The Vikings were out-rushed for only the second time this year – the other being against the Saints. The Vikings managed just 99 yards on 26 rushing attempts, while Tampa Bay ran 33 times for 108 yards.
The Buccaneers dominated the total yardage stats with 363 yards (255 passing, 108 rushing), as opposed to just 210 yards for the Vikings (111 passing, 99 rushing).
The yardage disparity was considerably more pronounced in the second half. Tampa Bay outgained the Vikings 200-64 to dominate play in the second half.
The Buccaneers finished the game with 21 first downs, as opposed to 14 for Minnesota. Again, the second half told the story. Tampa Bay had 12 first downs in the second half, while the Vikings had just three.
After being held to just one of four third-down conversions in the first half, Tampa Bay converted four of seven third-down chances in the second half.
The teams combined to punt just three times Sunday.
The Vikings defense came up strong in the red zone, allowing Tampa Bay to score just once in five trips in the money area. The Vikings only got in the red zone once, but scored a touchdown when they got the chance. However, letting an opponent get that deep five times is a recipe for disaster.
The Buccaneers held the ball for 20:38 of the game's final 30 minutes to effectively take the air out of the Vikings offense.
Tampa Bay had five sacks in the game, while the Vikings only got one, which came on a scramble by Jeff Garcia that came up inches short of the line of scrimmage and, by rule, was registered as a sack for zero yards by Chad Greenway.
Greenway had one of the biggest days of his pro career, registering 16 solo tackles.
Garcia dominated the head-to-head battle with Gus Frerotte. Garcia completed 23 of 30 passes for 255 yards, while Frerotte completed 14 of 20 passes for 138 yards and a touchdown. Neither passer threw an interception.
For Frerotte, Sunday was just the second time in his eight starts that he hasn't had at least one interception.
Frerotte's 138 passing yards were his lowest total of the season. After throwing for 200 or more yards in each of his first five starts, he has thrown for less than 200 in each of the last three, with each game being progressively worse (182, 151, 138).
The Buccaneers lost starter Earnest Graham on his first carry of the game, when Kevin Williams rolled up his ankle. Veteran Warrick Dunn took over and gained 53 yards on 20 carries.
Dunn came up much bigger in the second half, rushing 13 times for 41 yards.
The Bucs had just one rush of more than 10 yards – an 11-yard carry by Dunn in the second half.
Only one Viking – Bernard Berrian (three catches, 46 yards) – had more than two receptions.
The Buccaneers had three receivers with more than 50 yards– Jerramy Stevens (six catches, 84 yards), Dunn (four catches, 65 yards) and Antonio Bryant (five catches, 59 yards).
After the Buccaneers' last field goal to take a 19-13 lead, Peterson was dropped back to return the ensuing kickoff. He didn't provide the anticipated spark, being brought down after a 16-yard return.
With a carry in the fourth quarter, Dunn moved into 19th on the all-time NFL rushing list.
Former Viking Chris Hovan had one of Tampa Bay's five sacks Sunday, which was his first sack of the season.
Tampa Bay outscored the Vikings 7-0 in the third quarter, which reversed a season-long problem for the Bucs. They had been outscored 41-16 in the third quarter heading into action Sunday. With that third-quarter TD, the Vikings have been outscored 73-37 in the third quarter this year.
A big turning point came on a fourth-and-1 play in the third quarter. Despite having a solid power running game, the Vikings tried to cross up the Bucs at midfield with a pass. Frerotte appeared to deliver a strike downfield to Peterson, but linebacker Derrick Brooks broke up the play to give the ball to the Buccaneers on downs.
The second-half touchdown by fullback B.J. Askew was the first of his five-year career.
In the first half, the Vikings held the ball for 16:49 and ran the ball 20 times for 85 yards. As a team, the Vikings would rush just six times for 14 yards in the second half.
Individually, Frerotte had a strong first half, completing seven of nine passes for 73 yards and a touchdown. Peterson ran 13 times for 71 yards and Chester Taylor (who didn't have a rush in the second half) ran five times for 11 yards. Visanthe Shiancoe led the Vikings in the first half with two catches for 41 yards, while Berrian had two for 27 and Bobby Wade caught a four-yard TD pass.
For Tampa Bay, Garcia completed 12 of 15 passes for 136 yards in the first half. Running backs Dunn and Clifton Smith combined for eight carries for just 20 yards. Garcia completed passes to seven different receivers in the first half, led by Dunn with three for 57 yards and Stevens with three for 33 yards.
In the first half, the Vikings had five drives – a three-and-out to start the game, followed by scoring drives of eight, eight and 12 plays. Their final drive came in the final minute of the half and ended when the clock ran out.
Benny Sapp suffered what appeared to be a neck stinger in the second quarter, but he returned to action in the second half.
The Vikings tried a trick play in the second half, as a handoff to Peterson was flipped to Sidney Rice on a reverse and he threw an incompletion deep downfield that had no chance of being caught.
Defensive end Ray Edwards may find himself in some trouble with the league after leveling Garcia well after he threw a pass in the second quarter. The blow ended up opening a pretty significant cut on Garcia's chin.
The touchdown catch by Wade was his first of the season.
The Buccaneers held a yardage edge of 100-79 in the first quarter, throwing for 81 yards.
Peterson ran for 51 yards on six carries in the first quarter. He would gain just 34 yards on 13 carries the rest of the game.
Although he didn't have a huge offensive day, Peterson put in one of the plays of the game in the first quarter, taking a handoff that seemed destined to gain little or nothing, but a spin move on Ronde Barber allowed Peterson to break off a 22-yard run.
Tight end Garrett Mills was again hobbled with an ankle injury that has plagued him all season. He did return to the game, but finished with just one reception.
Barber recorded the 23rd sack of his career Sunday, which leads all active NFL cornerbacks.
As has become the habit with many teams, the Bucs won the coin toss and opted to defer until the second half. As it turned out, the Vikings went three-and-out to start the game and the Bucs scored a touchdown on the opening drive of the second half.
After having temperatures in the 80s as late as Friday of this week, weather was not a factor – the gametime temperature was 62 degrees – about six degrees less than it would have been if the game was played in the Metrodome.
A celebrity sighting on the sideline was that of golfer Tiger Woods, who was a guest of the Buccaneers. Woods is also a friend, neighbor and offseason workout buddy of Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell.