A recap of the Vikings’ six offensive snaps from the 11:39 mark of the second quarter until 14 seconds remained in the first half of Sunday’s 43-34 loss to the Packers:
1. 4-yard sack and safety.
2. 2-yard scramble.
3. No gain.
4. 7-yard sack.
Six plays over 11 minutes, 25 seconds. Total yards: minus-9.
“It got ugly there for a few possessions,” offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak said Thursday.
Yes. Yes, it did.
And the Packers pounced on an overmatched defense, turning a 7-3 disadvantage into a 22-7 lead. At that point, the Vikings had run 14 plays. The Packers had run 44.
Offensive tackle Brian O’Neill was asked this week about that second quarter in general and the 7-yard sack in particular. Rather than provide details that would have outed right guard Pat Elflein’s shortcomings on the sack, O’Neill stonewalled like the savvy veteran he’s becoming.
“To be honest, I respect the question,” he said. “But my focus is on Indy. … But, appreciate it.”
OK, on to Indy and Sunday’s battle of 0-1 teams at Lucas Oil Stadium. It will happen without Elflein, who was put on injured reserve Thursday.
The Colts were upset 27-20 at Jacksonville on Sunday, but the only team in the league that ran fewer plays in Week 1 than the Vikings’ 49 was Jacksonville (47).
When asked about the Colts defense, Kubiak noted it gave up only 241 yards, “and in this league, that’s incredible.”
The difference between the Jaguars winning with 47 plays and the Vikings losing with 49 was offensive efficiency over four quarters and winning the turnover battle. Colts quarterback Philip Rivers threw two interceptions that handed the Jaguars 10 points.
“We’re trying to chase four quarters,” said Kubiak, whose offense opened with a touchdown drive and closed with 24 fourth-quarter points. “What was the difference? It’s always little things. … That’s part of football. You’ve got to battle through mistakes. Keep battling and keep playing and stay positive in your approach. We did that.”
And yet, even with 19 fourth-quarter snaps, the Vikings held the ball for only 18 minutes, 44 seconds, a franchise-record low.
Only the Jets, who lost to Buffalo 27-17, had less time of possession in Week 1. They held the ball for 18:43, running 53 snaps while allowing Buffalo to post a league-high 81 snaps.
A lot of the angst about Week 1 has been directed at a Mike Zimmer defense that limps into Week 2 ranked dead last in yards and points allowed. But, at least so far, there doesn’t appear to be any teeth gnashing between the offensive and defensive units.
The six captains — four on offense and two on defense — apparently gathered the squad and pushed everyone past the carnage of last Sunday.
“All the captains and all the vets and everybody agreed that we could play better,” cornerback Mike Hughes said. “We’re still confident that this team could be very good. We’ve moved on from last week. We watched the film and corrected the mistakes. We’re ready to go this week.”
Even a certain former Super Bowl-winning head coach hasn’t been immune from the ire being directed at the Vikings. But Kubiak is OK with that.
“When you lose, you didn’t make the right call, and that’s the way this business is,” he said. “You go there every week to find a way to get a W. I didn’t do a good enough job. We didn’t do a good enough job on offense to get that done. I’ve got to be better.”
And part of getting better is letting go and moving forward.
“Being a play caller is a lot like being a player,” said Kubiak, who was calling plays in a game for the first time since he retired as the Broncos’ head coach after the 2016 season. “You call a two-deep play and they’re playing three-deep, and it’s not a good play. You’ve got to go on to the next one.”