Slow starts could catch up to Vikings

The Vikings have fallen behind in the first half in each of their first two games on the road. With better opponents coming up, they may not get away with that for long.

Brad Childress admitted there are plenty of improvements that still need to be made despite the fact his team has started the season 2-0. But the Vikings coach made it very clear he isn't about to minimize those two victories.

"Anybody that doesn't get how hard it is to win a game in this league, it's a hard thing to do," Childress said. "It's hard. It's harder to go on the road and do it."

The Vikings beat Cleveland and Detroit - two teams that went a combined 4-28 last season - by convincing margins on the road, but in both cases they had to rally from first-half deficits.

The Browns held a 13-10 halftime lead before the Vikings responded with 24 unanswered points en route to a 34-20 victory in Week 1. The Lions were up 10-0 late in the second quarter before the Vikings started a 27-0 run. Detroit scored only three more points.

While the comebacks were impressive, what wasn't impressive was that in both instances the Vikings didn't look ready to go out of the gate. A good team can get away with playing 30 minutes against subpar opponents like the Browns and Lions, but trying to get started late will prove extremely costly later in the season when the Vikings face the Steelers, Ravens and Giants.

Childress' players know this trend must end if they are going to remain undefeated for much longer. Their next opportunity to put together a complete game will come Sunday when the Vikings play host to San Francisco in their home opener.

It will mark Brett Favre's first home game as the Vikings' quarterback. Favre, of course, was hated by many in the Metrodome for the 16 seasons he spent as a member of the Green Bay Packers.

The 49ers are a definite step up from the Browns and Lions when it comes to the quality of their personnel. San Francisco won five of its final seven games under new coach Mike Singletary in 2008 - Singletary took over for Mike Nolan seven games into the season - and is off to a 2-0 start with victories over Arizona and Seattle.

Asked why his team seems to have come out so strong in the third quarter in the first two weeks after not starting so hot, Childress said the ability to refocus at halftime has been a definite plus.

"I think adjustments are an overrated thing but there are certainly adjustments that are made and there are things that you talk about," he said. "But I just think you get back about your business. I get a chance to tell them what I saw in the first half. I'm not going to say it's a Knute Rockne speech or anything like that. It's pointed to what we saw, what we need to get done as we start the second half.

"Sometimes it's just a matter of re-pointing yourself and kind of re-centering yourself a little bit. Do you hope to be that way when you come out at the start? You do. And you take that for granted. It's not like you don't talk about it coming out of the gate. But that's just the way it's kind of manifested itself in the first two games."

Wide receiver Sidney Rice knows that is simply not acceptable.

"It's on us as the players," to get a better tempo early, Rice said. "It's the coaches job to put in the game plan. It's our job to learn the game plan and execute the plays. With all that comes tempo. When you come out that first play, first drive, you have to set the tempo right then. Hustling up to the ball, not letting your opponent out-tempo you."

SERIES HISTORY: 39th regular-season meeting. Vikings lead series, 19-18-1. The Vikings have not had nearly as much success in the postseason against the 49ers as they've had in the regular season. The Vikings are 1-4 in the divisional playoffs against the 49ers, with four of those games having been played in San Francisco.

BY THE NUMBERS: 85.2 — Brett Favre's completion percentage (23 of 27) last Sunday against Detroit, a Vikings record for a single game. Randall Cunningham had held the franchise mark with a completion percentage of 84 percent (21 of 25) on Nov. 1, 1998, at Tampa Bay.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're not going to go back there and go bombs away all game. We've got A.D. (Adrian Peterson) in the backfield. We can't do that. But when it presents itself we're definitely going to take the chance and try to get it in there." — Wide receiver Bernard Berrian on his expectation that the Vikings will start to go vertical more often as the season progresses.

NOTES

  • WR Bernard Berrian, who missed three preseason games because of a hamstring injury and did not have a catch in Week 1, said his leg feels fine. Berrian caught all six of the passes thrown to him in the Vikings' victory at Detroit.

  • G Anthony Herrera was slowed in practice last week by a back injury but was able to play against the Lions and should be fine for this weekend's game against San Francisco.

  • LB Heath Farwell was limited all of last week in practice because of a pulled hamstring but played in Detroit and should be good to go against San Francisco.

  • LB E.J. Henderson did not practice Wednesday because of a shoulder injury suffered Sunday in Detroit.

  • LB Erin Henderson (calf) continues to be sidelined, although he was able to watch some of practice Wednesday. Henderson is expected to miss at least two more weeks.

  • RB Adrian Peterson was limited in practice Wednesday because of a back injury but was able to take part in the portion that was open to the media. Peterson has been held back in practice before but has only missed two games in his two-plus seasons.

  • S Madieu Williams was limited in practice Wednesday because of a shoulder injury.

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