Vikings 'lay an egg' at home in prime time

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 26, 2012 - 6:45 AM

The Vikings offense sputtered, while the defense found no way to stop elusive rookie back Doug Martin.

At the end of an intense and frustrating Thursday night at Mall of America Field, the Vikings didn't try to sugarcoat their 36-17 loss to Tampa Bay.

It was a home stumble with so many flaws that the first step to recovery will require an honest self- diagnosis.

"You can't lay an egg like that at home the way we did," linebacker Chad Greenway said in a glum Vikings locker room. "It's unfathomable that it would happen like that."

Added coach Leslie Frazier: "We didn't play up to our standards."

Maybe these Vikings weren't quite ready for prime time. Perhaps they don't deserve status as a serious contender in the NFC playoff picture.

It sure seemed that way Thursday, particularly through a first half in which the run defense was gashed, the second-year quarterback was booed and even the star running back had trouble taking care of the ball.

Just like that, the Vikings found themselves in a 30-10 third-quarter hole, unable to match Tampa Bay on either side of the ball.

For one night anyway, the Buccaneers were the much better team and their highlights were many.

First and foremost, there was the dazzling running of Doug Martin, an emerging rookie out of Boise State who shredded the Vikings defense with his power, quickness and assertiveness on his way to 214 total yards and two touchdowns.

Martin broke the game open early in the second half with a 64-yard touchdown catch on a screen pass, a huge play on which he burst past Greenway and left at least three defensive backs in his wake.

All night long, Martin gave the Vikings headaches, the third player in three weeks to top 100 yards on the ground against the Vikings.

"He just runs hard," safety Harrison Smith said. "He's a complete back. He runs it, he can catch it. He's a power back. But he has some moves too. He has some speed. He's an impressive player."

Yet there was also the hustle of 16th-year veteran Ronde Barber, who stripped Adrian Peterson late in the first half, creating a turnover that Tampa Bay quickly turned into a touchdown.

And that score was a thing of beauty itself, a 3-yard catch by Mike Williams on a fade in which he leapt above rookie cornerback Josh Robinson to grab the ball, then tapped both feet down inbounds in the back of the end zone.

If Tampa Bay came to the Twin Cities to prove it was much better than its 2-4 record, it succeeded.

The Bucs arrived on a hot streak offensively. They totaled 976 yards of offense in their previous two games. Against the Vikings, they amassed 416 yards with Martin's big night complemented nicely by quarterback Josh Freeman (19-for-36, 262 yards, three touchdowns) and Williams (six catches, 68 yards).

Tampa Bay's final touchdown drive was a 16-play, 87-yard submission hold that ate up more than 9 minutes of clock.

"We had to get off the field if we were going to do anything," Greenway said. "We knew that."

So now the Vikings hit the season's midpoint at 5-3 and get nine days to sort through their shortcomings.

Offensively, it's hard to find fault in the efforts of playmakers Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin.

Peterson rushed for 123 yards Thursday to shoot into the NFL lead. He also delivered his longest run of the season, a 64-yard TD sprint that pulled the Vikings within 30-17 in the third quarter.

Meanwhile Harvin (seven catches, 90 yards) had provided earlier fireworks, most notably with his diving 18-yard touchdown catch on a perfectly run corner route in the second quarter.

So naturally the conversation shifts to Christian Ponder's struggles and an unsatisfactory October that included eight turnovers and far too many discouraging drives.

Ponder misfired on his first five pass attempts against Tampa Bay as the Vikings went three-and-out on their first three possessions.

Ponder wound up throwing for 251 yards against a sputtering Tampa Bay defense that came in ranked 31st against the pass.

But without question, there's been an offensive confidence dip that will have to be addressed.

"Our passing game has to improve," Frazier said. "I mean, it's hard to just continue to try to pound it. There are going to be games where you've got to throw it."

Somehow, Thursday's loss had an ominous feel to it, as if the Vikings' early-season surge was exposed as somewhat hollow.

They now enter the teeth of their schedule with a difficult challenge to prove otherwise.

Dan Wiederer dan.wiederer@startribune.com

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Team Irvin 7:15 PM
Team Carter
Miami 64 3rd Qtr 3:09
Chicago 55
Oklahoma City 2:30 PM
Cleveland
Dallas 5:00 PM
New Orleans
Indiana 5:00 PM
Orlando
LA Clippers 5:00 PM
Phoenix
Minnesota 5:00 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 6:00 PM
Toronto
Milwaukee 6:00 PM
San Antonio
Boston 7:00 PM
Golden State
Washington 7:00 PM
Denver
Houston 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Team Toews 4:00 PM
Team Foligno
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 45 2nd Half 9:53
Georgia Tech 35
Virginia 36 2nd Half 10:24
Virginia Tech 43
Indiana 32 2nd Half
Ohio State 38
Stony Brook 16 1st Half 8:11
Binghamton 15
Cincinnati 12 1st Half 9:52
UCF 18
Maine 19 1st Half 6:20
Hartford 16
Monmouth 26 1st Half 4:13
Manhattan 29
Fairfield 21 1st Half 5:47
Marist 21
Rowan 18 1st Half 2:31
Princeton 41
St Bonaventure 10 1st Half 7:37
Rhode Island 13
Duke 23 1st Half 11:05
St Johns 17
Saint Peters 26 1st Half 3:46
Siena 21
Drake 10 1st Half 7:48
Wichita State 20
Vermont 21 1st Half 5:57
UMass Lowell 15
Seton Hall 2:00 PM
Butler
NJIT 2:05 PM
South Alabama
Northern Iowa 3:00 PM
Illinois State
Louisville 3:00 PM
Pittsburgh
UMBC 3:30 PM
Albany
Niagara 3:30 PM
Iona
Notre Dame 5:30 PM
NC State
Belmont 5:30 PM
Tennessee St
Creighton 6:00 PM
Villanova
Northwestern 6:30 PM
Maryland
Washington 7:30 PM
Utah
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 51 2nd Half 5:51
UMBC 38
Vanderbilt 45 2nd Half 7:18
Alabama 43
Lafayette 35 2nd Half 11:21
Lehigh 41
UCF 16 1st Half 9:08
SMU 12
Utah 17 1st Half 5:20
Washington 24
James Madison 28 1st Half 5:49
Coll of Charleston 18
Delaware 18 1st Half 3:40
Drexel 26
Hofstra 18 1st Half 7:26
William & Mary 22
Hartford 16 1st Half 8:13
Albany 24
Binghamton 16 1st Half 6:54
Stony Brook 22
Towson 27 1st Half 7:14
UNC-Wilmington 16
Wake Forest 26 1st Half 8:33
(17) Florida State 34
Georgia Tech 20 1st Half 4:40
Virginia 24
(22) Georgia 22 1st Half 5:55
(5) Tennessee 14
Drake 23 1st Half 6:03
Evansville 21
Iona 30 1st Half 5:45
Canisius 22
Fairfield 10 1st Half 7:21
Monmouth 17
Northwestern 21 1st Half 7:31
Penn State 26
Wisconsin 26 1st Half 3:59
Michigan State 27
Ohio State 20 1st Half 5:20
Purdue 20
Northern Iowa 19 1st Half 7:56
Indiana State 14
Butler 2 1st Half 18:13
Xavier 2
Creighton 2:00 PM
Marquette
Providence 2:00 PM
DePaul
Northeastern 2:00 PM
Elon
(2) Connecticut 2:00 PM
Cincinnati
Oregon 2:00 PM
Arizona
Bradley 2:00 PM
Loyola-Chicago
NC State 2:00 PM
(23) Syracuse
(7) Maryland 2:00 PM
Indiana
Illinois State 2:05 PM
Missouri State
Colorado 3:00 PM
Washington St
Tulane 3:00 PM
South Florida
(14) Kentucky 3:00 PM
Missouri
(9) Oregon State 3:00 PM
(13) Arizona State
Vermont 3:30 PM
UMass Lowell
Iowa State 3:30 PM
(8) Texas
Southern Ill 3:45 PM
Wichita State
(15) Duke 4:00 PM
(12) North Carolina
Miami-Florida 4:00 PM
(4) Louisville
(21) Minnesota 4:15 PM
(25) Rutgers
California 5:00 PM
UCLA
(11) Stanford 7:00 PM
USC
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

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