Five key moments that led to the Vikings' miserable first half:


The Vikings traded for quarterback Donovan McNabb on July 28, wrongly surmising his veteran leadership and savvy could keep them in the playoff picture. Six days later, the release of Bryant McKinnie left the team vulnerable at left tackle. One veteran turned out to be way past his prime. The other is a key contributor on a Super Bowl contender. The Vikings came out on the wrong end.


Picking the one moment that doomed the Vikings in their Week 2 collapse against Tampa Bay is difficult. It takes a series of blunders to blow a 17-point halftime lead at home. But even as the Buccaneers pierced the Vikings defense on their final drive, coach Leslie Frazier was not proactive in stopping the collapse. With all three timeouts in his back pocket, Frazier allowed Tampa to use 3:41 on its final series with LeGarrette Blount's game-winning 4-yard touchdown run coming with just 35 seconds left. With so little time left, the Vikings never had a prayer of answering.


The decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the 17 early in the fourth quarter against Detroit was bad enough. A 35-yard field goal would have provided a 23-17 lead. But then, the call to give Toby Gerhart the ball instead of Adrian Peterson registered as doubly mystifying. Gerhart was stuffed for no gain. The Lions tied the score soon after and won 26-23 in overtime with the Vikings blowing a double-digit halftime lead for the third consecutive week. An 0-3 start never hurt so bad.


The Vikings' game-losing play in Kansas City came with 13:51 left when Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe ran a simple hitch-and-go route. Cornerback Cedric Griffin slipped. And Bowe's 52-yard score gave Kansas City a 22-10 lead. Both teams were 0-3 at the time. The Chiefs, however, seized confidence and momentum from their first victory and haven't lost since.


The lasting image from an embarrassing prime time loss in Chicago in Week 6 was of McNabb lying face down after taking a first-quarter safety. Immediately before, it was Marcus Sherels' fair catch at his own 5 that pinned the Vikings deep. Then, center John Sullivan whiffed on a block, Adrian Peterson was late compensating, and McNabb was sacked in the end zone. After that, the Vikings' confidence tank was empty. A 39-10 loss was labeled "humiliating" inside the locker room.