Same song, different verse.

Posted: September 22, 2011 by vongrapenstein in NFL, Purple Pride

The Minnesota Vikings dominated the first half of their week two matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, only to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the second half.

Sound familiar?  Alright, let’s make this quick…

In the first half, the Vikings had 274 total yards to the Buccaneers paltry 57 yards.  Minnesota had touchdown drives of 90 and 75 yards, and a 72-yard drive that ended with a field goal; Tampa Bay had three three-and-outs and a four-play drive that ended the half.  Adrian Peterson had 86 yards with only 14 carries and Donovan McNabb was 11 for 17 with 153 yards, including a 42-yard screen to Toby Gerhart.  The defense wasn’t letting Josh Freeman breathe.

Everything was clicking for Minnesota as they went into halftime with a 17-0 lead and the ball to start the second half.

But, after a three-and-out, the Buccaneers had great field position at the Vikings 44-yard line. After a 17-yard pass, LeGarrette Blount rumbled and stumbled (trademark, Chris Berman) his way for a 27-yard touchdown. On the ensuing kickoff, the Buccaneers gambled with an onside kick – and it worked.  The Vikings were officially peeing down their leg.

Luckily, after Freeman led the Buccaneers to the Vikings’ 12-yard line, a bad read put the ball right into Husain Abdullah’s hands for the easy interception.  Of course, the Vikings couldn’t capitalize on that and quickly punted.

After a Tampa Bay field goal drive (which should have been a touchdown drive, if not for a touchdown-nullifying holding penalty), the Vikings were able to tack on a field goal with a little over 9:40 left in the game. However, the Buccaneers were able to respond with a three-minute touchdown drive ending in a 25-yard pass to Arrelious Benn.

Another quick stall-out by the Vikings offense (McNabb’s second half stats: 7/13, 75 yards; Peterson’s second half stats: 9 carries, 34 yards), and Freeman had the ball with 4:12 to go and the Vikings up by three.

Here is where the Vikings problems became much clearer.  Actually, later on is when the problems become clear.

As the Buccaneers were driving to their seemingly inevitable touchdown (Freeman went 5/6 for 46 yards on the drive), the Vikings coaching staff elected not to use any of their timeouts – despite the fact the Buccaneers were inside the 10-yard line under two minutes. Despite the fact the Vikings were going to need more time for their offense even if they held Tampa to just a field goal.  Despite the fact their defense was clearly tired, as Blount’s marauding four-yard touchdown run illustrated perfectly.

There was only 31 seconds left on the clock when the Vikings got the ball back – and, of course, Percy Harvin bobbled the kickoff and Minnesota took over at their own 10-yard line.  Two incompletions and a hook-and-ladder prayer ended the game – but at least the Vikings still had their three timeouts.

Can they use those next week?  They carry over, right?

That timeout-less drive revealed what was thought after the first week: Leslie Frazier is currently in over his head.  Who knows if he improves or not and he deserves time to figure it out, but as of right now, he is getting thoroughly and obviously outcoached in the second half of games, when coaches make their bones with adjustments and adjustments to adjustments.

When coaches are supposed to show their worth, Frazier appears to be worthless.

After defending his decision on Sunday, Frazier had another chance to say he made a mistake or admit to growing pains as a coach on Monday.  His response to why he didn’t call timeouts?

“It’s debatable about what’s the best approach you might want to take in that situation.  You would like to be able to give your offense another chance, but you would like to be able to come up with a play to end the game as well…or block a field goal, whatever it may be.”

Block a field goal.  That was the Frazier plan.

It might be a long year.  But if you’re an optimist, I guess maybe Frazier and the Vikings will learn how to put together a full sixty minutes.

I’m not an optimist.


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