Really, wide receivers were on the field

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 3, 2012 - 6:35 AM

Vikings didn't complete a pass to their pass-catching specialists until the final three minutes.

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Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder tried — unsuccessfully — to dump a pass to wide receiver Jarius Wright in the third quarter.

Photo: Brian Peterson, Star Tribune

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GREEN BAY, WIS. - If you're trying to remember the last time you saw an NFL team go more than 57 minutes without one measly completion to a wide receiver, well, you're not alone.

"I'm nine years in and I've never really seen it," said receiver Michael Jenkins, who was targeted three times but didn't have a catch in Sunday's 23-14 loss at Lambeau Field.

"We have to find a way to fix it. And if we want to make the playoffs, we have to fix it fast."

Fixing it soon most likely depends on Mother Nature's ability to heal Percy Harvin's sprained left ankle in time for Sunday's game against the Bears at Mall of America Field.

Harvin led the NFL in receptions (62) at the time of his injury but missed his third consecutive game on Sunday.

After a feel-good win at home against the Lions, the Vikings have lost consecutive road games against the Bears and Packers. The wide receivers have caught a total of 13 passes for 105 yards in those two games, including three for 38 against Green Bay -- all in the final 2 minutes, 43 seconds.

The Packers played a lot of man coverage, daring second-year quarterback Christian Ponder to throw the ball to his undermanned receiving corps rather than keep handing off to Adrian Peterson, who was gashing Green Bay for 210 yards rushing.

"You'd think you'd be able to do anything you want [in the passing game] with a guy rushing like that week in and week out," Jenkins said. "But it just hasn't materialized for whatever reason. I don't know if we have to narrow down the pass offense or what."

Receivers weren't pointing fingers at Ponder, who had only five completions -- all in one first-half drive -- until less than 3 1/2 minutes remained. But the frustration with the overall lack of production from the wide receivers was evident.

"I mean, I don't want to make it sound bad," said rookie receiver Jarius Wright. "But never in my life have I been part of something like this."

Nearby, receiver Devin Aromashodu was asked how the team can fix the passing game for the receivers.

"I guess you have to do the obvious thing, which is to throw it a little more," said Aromashodu, who was targeted once and didn't catch a pass.

"I guess we maybe should take [advantage] of the opportunities. We tried to get the receivers involved. But it just didn't work out today."

During the first 57 minutes, Ponder targeted wide receivers seven times with no completions.

In the final three minutes, he targeted them six times, completing two for 25 yards to Jerome Simpson and one to Wright for 13 yards on the final play.

None of Ponder's deep passing attempts came close to being completed.

By the end of the game, the Vikings had resorted to sending Peterson and backup running back Toby Gerhart on deep routes. The only positive yardage from that came when Gerhart drew a penalty for unnecessary roughness.

"With all the man [defense the Packers] played, we really felt going into the ballgame that we'd be able to exploit some of the things they were doing," coach Leslie Frazier said.

"Obviously we didn't take advantage. We have to determine why because it'll be the same way next week."

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