Vikings try to reassure their fans

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 13, 2011 - 6:44 AM

The offense in the second half was U-G-L-Y, but coaches, players see brighter days ahead.

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Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was upended by Chargers linebacker Takeo Spikes in the second quarter. Peterson ran nine times for 74 yards in the first half and seven times for 24 yards in the second.

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

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Move along, people. Nothing to worry about. We've got it all under control.

Like beat cops to a crowd of gawkers at a crash scene, the Vikings spent Monday essentially assuring reporters -- and therefore the public -- that Sunday's second-half meltdown in San Diego wasn't a harbinger of things to come for a team that's in transition and still playing catchup following the league's 4 1/2-month lockout.

"It was one game," coach Leslie Frazier said of the 24-17 loss to the Chargers. "We've got a lot of games. The biggest thing about this game yesterday is that we aren't going to be able to go 16-0. I don't think it declares anybody anything other than the fact that you can't go 16-0."

Players echoed those words in the locker room, downplaying a second half that saw the Vikings outdone in total yards, 234-26; passing yards, 193-2; first downs, 18-2; and points, 17-0.

"It's disappointing, but at the same time, nobody here is going to panic," center John Sullivan said. "Nobody here is going to get nervous about it. We know we're going to go back to work on Wednesday and get ready to go out and beat Tampa Bay. We'll be right where we want to be."

Meanwhile, the rest of the NFC North is exactly where it wants to be heading into Week 2. While Donovan McNabb completed 47 percent of his passes for 39 yards in his Vikings debut, the trio of Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, Chicago's Jay Cutler and Detroit's Matthew Stafford went 3-0 while completing 73 percent of its passes and an average of 310 yards per player.

The Vikings, however, probably are right where they should be. They have enough talented individuals to lead a Super Bowl contender by 10 points on the road at halftime, and by three points in the fourth quarter. But consistency issues and growing pains often come with new faces at key positions, a new offense and a head coach in his first full season.

Frazier opened Monday's press conference by talking about the "many positive things that happened" on Sunday. One of those was averaging 6.1 yards per rush while holding the Chargers to a 2.9-yard average.

"You do that," he said, "and you feel like you're going to have a chance, that you're going to be in games."

But even the Vikings' running game was a shell of its first-half self in Sunday's second half. After rushing for 125 yards on 16 carries in the first half, the Vikings were held to 24 yards on 10 second-half carries.

Frazier said the second-half problems weren't the product of halftime adjustments the Chargers made or the Vikings didn't make. As if to emphasize that point, he mentioned the need for better "execution" eight times throughout the press conference.

"San Diego did a real good job of clamping down on certain things that we wanted to be able to do," Frazier said. "What we have to be able to do when that happens is our playmakers end up having to make some plays even though you may be covered.

"It may mean coming back to the football another yard. It may mean the quarterback getting the ball out a little bit sooner. It may mean an offensive lineman being able to sustain his block a little bit longer. ... We have to do a little bit better job of executing in certain situations."

Running back Adrian Peterson, the $100 million face of the franchise, wasn't offended by that remark.

"That's pretty much how I see it and what I've been saying as far as coming out in the second half, not taking advantage of those opportunities, keeping those drives alive," Peterson said. "We just didn't do that in the second half."

Defensive end Jared Allen said no matter what's called, it's up to the players to make things work.

"There are times when coach is going to make a bad call and we got to make him right," Allen said. "And there are times he's going to make a great call and maybe we don't play it well, but someone is in position.

"At the end of the day, the coaches can make the call, but it's the players who have to make the play."

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