Minnesota Vikings 2012: Final Thoughts of the 23-20 Loss to the Colts
What an ugly performance from the Vikings. While the team was outplayed on both sides of the ball, there was still a chance for the Vikes to pull out a sneaky victory for a second straight week. Penalties and stupid plays are what really cost the team this game.
It was never more obvious than in the Colts' first drive of the second half. After forcing a punt, backup safety Andrew Sendejo roughed the punter to continue the drive. Three plays later, the defense stepped up and had Andrew Luck running out of bounds well short of the first down. Then, Jared Allen stupidly hit him late. While the contact was initiated in bounds, it was obvious that Luck wasn't getting the first down, and he is the quarterback, so the refs (even replacement refs) will always protect him.
It was a play born out of frustration for Allen. He was being beaten for the second straight week, most of the time without the need for a double team, but a veteran should know better.
Matt Kalil also had a late hit that turned a first down into a 3rd-and-long. While it is more understandable for a rookie to make a mistake like this, that doesn't make it any more acceptable.
The last second touchdown in the first half was demoralizing as well. While the defense is to blame for leaving Reggie Wayne wide open in the end zone, the offense was at fault as well. Christian Ponder took the ball from his own 15, and then a 3-and-out gave Luck far too much time and too good of field position. The drive (if it could even be called that) ended when Ponder missed a wide-open Percy Harvin on third down.
Ponder seemed to regress after his impressive showing against the Jaguars in Week 1, missing open receivers, and he lucked out when he threw the ball into the chest of linebacker Kavell Conner who dropped it. To his defense, he was under pressure often, but didn't take advantage when he wasn't.
And where was the defensive line? Jared Allen was virtually non-existent again, other than his dumb penalty. Kevin Williams played the run well, but didn't generate any pressure. And Brian Robison was most noted for missing plays.
There were few positive notes, and even those were tempered with bad play. Percy Harvin had a statistically good game, catching 12 passes for 104 yards, as well as rushing for 13 on two attempts, but he had a pass interference call that pushed a drive back 10 yards right as it was starting.
Defensively, Erin Henderson had the best game, having a sack as well as being the only explosive player throughout the game. Robison almost had a safety, which could have turned the game around, but he missed it. And rookie Harrison Smith was decent in coverage other than the Wayne touchdown, and he stepped up against the run.
Like I said, this was an ugly game for both sides of the ball until the fourth quarter. Then the offense decided to make a drive and the defense stepped up and made plays when it needed to as well.
The highlight of the day for the Vikings came when the offense was in 4th-and-4 on the six-yard line. Percy Harvin was nursing his calf, so he wasn't on the field. Ponder tried to get the ball to his tight end Kyle Rudolph, but the ball was tipped at the line. It went up in the air, and Rudolph tried to jump and bring it down, but it slipped through his fingers...right into the hands of Stephen Burton. His first career touchdown came when he shouldn't have even been on the field, yet his concentration kept his team in the game.
Everson Griffen made the most of his limited time on the field, coming up with arguably the biggest play for the defense when he sacked Luck for a 22-yard loss on third down, which set up the Vikings' final drive.
And on that final drive, Rudolph did haul in his first touchdown of the season, doing so with 31 seconds left in regulation.
But then the defense looked like its old self again, allowing the Colts to move into field goal range on three plays. Veteran Adam Vinatieri drilled a 53-yard field goal to win the game with eight seconds left. The Vikings had time for one more play, and it looked like it might have been a hook-and-ladder call, but Devin Aromashodu was tackled immediately after catching the ball.
It was disappointing, especially riding the high that the team gave fans with the overtime victory in Week 1. And while there were some things to build off of, there are far to many things to fix for anyone to feel confident heading into Week 3.
Overall, the Vikings were supremely lucky to even tie this game up. They deserved to lose, and they left many fans questioning the coaching of their favorite team. The Vikings have showed in back to back weeks that they have talent, but the team has come out slow in both of its games so far. Leslie Frazier cannot allow that to happen again next week against the 49ers if he wants it to even be close.
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