Players express emotions of latest loss

The Vikings were hoping to right their previous Sunday night loss in Arizona, but instead they ended up admitting to many mistakes and apologizing to fans.

There are plenty of ways the Vikings could have spun their 26-7 loss to the Carolina Panthers. They had missed tackles on defense and gave up 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. They converted only one of 10 first downs on offense.

But one thing they didn't do is mince words at how they felt about the loss.

"We're embarrassed and disappointed and all the other negative words. We're obviously pretty down on ourselves right now," linebacker Ben Leber said. "You never want to go out on a national stage like that and flop like we did the last two times against Arizona and Carolina. We're going to get this thing fixed and we can't lose sight of who we are. We're division champs and we can't let one or two losses overshadow that."

For a day anyway, even after looking at the film, the loss stuck with the players and the statistics showed the many ways in which the Panthers beat them down. Carolina held easy advantages on first downs (23-10), third-down conversions (47 percent to 10 percent), yards (397-237) and offensive plays (75-45).

Throw in four sacks of Brett Favre, a "heated" sideline conversation between Favre and head coach Brad Childress, and several dropped passes by receivers and no one was feeling good about the loss.

"Piss poor performance from the Vikings last night. Embarrassing and we are not taking it lightly," tight end Visanthe Shiancoe wrote on his Twitter page. "Going to fix the problems we have. At the same time, we can still finish strong and roll into the playoffs with some velocity. Looks like the grass is cut … the weather isn't so calm. We'll see who stands strong."

Shaincoe dropped one key third-down attempt near midfield, but there was plenty of blame to go around. Bryant McKinnie struggled to handle the pass rush of Julius Peppers and was pulled in favor of Artis Hicks. McKinnie owned up to his struggles after the game with reporters and on his Twitter page.

"I'm just gonna say Wow! I had a OFF day! This was not a good nite 4 me," he wrote. "There is something we gotta fix this week 2 put me n better position."

McKinnie thanked fans for their support and wide receiver Sidney Rice even apologized to fans on his Twitter page.

"Very disappointing performance by us last night!" he wrote. "My apologies to all of my fans and the true Vikes fans. Back to the lab!!!"

It was a strange turn of events. With the Saints losing the previous night, the Vikings had a chance to pull within a game of New Orleans for the top seed in the NFC playoffs. Instead, they lost to a team that had been eliminated from the playoffs with a 5-8 record. Making it even more strange was the fact that the Vikings clinched the NFC North division title about an hour before their game started when Green Bay lost on a Pittsburgh touchdown with no time remaining.

A few players were trying to keep that in mind Monday.

"You want to think about (the mistakes) and get it corrected, but we did win the division and we still have a lot of things to hang our hat on," defensive tackle Kevin Williams said. "Just correct the small things and then get ready going into the last two games and then the playoffs."

Scoring only one touchdown and having a 7-6 lead early in the fourth quarter turn into a 26-7 drubbing had an effect on everyone a day later, even the head coach.

"Today it feels like we are 3-11. Can you feel that? It's kind of palpable for us in the locker room," Childress said. "That is how we are wired. I would think that we didn't feel like we had the lead."

Even so, Leber said the players remain confident.

"I don't think the confidence is shaken. We're obviously disappointed. I don't think our confidence has wavered," he said. "We took this one on the chin pretty good, but we're going to bounce back and that's what I have faith in."

NOTES

  • Williams believes he will be fined for a low hit on Panthers quarterback Matt Moore. "Yeah, I got him at the knee. It wasn't like I was going at the knee. I was trying to get the guy down," he said. "I'm not going to stop just because I think I'm about to hit him in the knee – that's the last thing you're thinking about when you're trying to play football. I'm pretty sure they'll fine me, but we just have to keep rolling. He (NFL commissioner Roger Goodell) has been fining everybody. Nothing new is going change."

  • The Vikings face the Bears on Monday night, and Chicago QB Jay Cutler threw two interceptions during their Nov. 22 meeting. On Sunday, Cutler threw three interceptions at Baltimore, raising his league-leading total to 25 interceptions this season. That's the highest total by a veteran player in his first season with a new team since Ken Stabler was picked off 28 times with the Houston Oilers in 1980, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Cutler has two games to surpass Stabler.

  • Scout.com's Chris Steuber continues to document the declarations by college underclassmen for the NFL draft in his tracker.


    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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