Vikings give another one away
By Jon Krawczynski
AP Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS -- At the far end of an almost silent locker room, Chad Greenway sat at his stall, staring into his locker in stunned disbelief after the Minnesota Vikings let a 17-0 halftime lead slip away against Tampa Bay.
"Almost just bewildered to the point where it couldn't happen again," Greenway said. "Especially the way we were playing. Everyone was flying around and making plays and getting off the field on third down. Just extremely disappointed in how it all shook out today."
For the second week in a row, the Vikings let a halftime lead get away from them. This time, they wasted a dominating performance in the first two quarters in falling 24-20 to the Buccaneers on Sunday, dropping them to 0-2.
Adrian Peterson rushed for 120 yards and two touchdowns, Percy Harvin had seven catches for 76 yards, and the defense was getting pressure on Josh Freeman throughout the first half. But it all seemed to dry up in the final two quarters as Freeman rallied the Bucs to 14 points in the fourth to steal the victory.
"My first thought that goes through my mind is, 'Wow, we gave the game away,'" Peterson said.
The star back bulldozed Ronde Barber on a 9-yard scoring run less than a minute before halftime to give the Vikings a 17-0 lead. The Vikings outgained Tampa Bay 284-62 in the first two quarters and looked to be running away with the game.
Then LeGarrette Blount ripped off a 27-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter and Donovan McNabb one-hopped a throw to an open Visanthe Shiancoe in the end zone, forcing the Vikings to settle for a field goal.
Freeman threw a 25-yard TD pass to Arrelious Benn with 6:39 to play, then drove the Bucs 61 yards in the final four minutes to cap his eighth career comeback victory. Blount polished off the drive with a 4-yard run with 31 seconds to play.
"When you play as well as we were playing, to have the tide turn as quickly and dramatically as it did, that's frustrating," coach Leslie Frazier said. "We've got to come back on Monday and figure out what the problem is and get it fixed in a hurry."
Frazier was asked about not using any of his timeouts to stop the clock on the Bucs' last drive to leave more time for his offense.
"I really thought that we were going to stop them on defense," Frazier said. "I really did -- force them to kick a field goal or come up with a turnover."
The Vikings led the San Diego Chargers 17-7 at halftime of the season opener but couldn't get anything going offensively in the second half of a 24-17 loss.
McNabb passed for just 39 yards in that game, but looked much better Sunday. He completed 18 of 30 passes for 228 yards, going downfield with more success and looking nimble on designed rollouts.
The Vikings finished with 398 total yards and didn't commit a turnover until Percy Harvin was credited with a fumble while trying to lateral the ball on the last play of the game.
But the Vikings had two drives stall inside the 20, forcing them to settle for field goals that proved costly as the Buccaneers mounted their comeback.
Defensive ends Jared Allen and Brian Robison were in Freeman's face throughout the first half, but the third-year pro started getting rid of the ball quicker in the second to neutralize the rush.
Blount started finding some seams in the run defense as well, rushing for 67 of his 71 yards over the final two quarters.
Freeman was 22 for 31 for 243 yards with one touchdown and one interception and Preston Parker had six catches for 98 yards.
"They kicked the crap out of us in the second half and that sucks because we were dominating them in the first half and we were playing like I know we can," Allen said. "We've got to find a way to play for 60 minutes."
Now the Vikings find themselves at the bottom of the NFC North, with the vastly improved Detroit Lions (2-0) coming to town next week brimming with confidence.
"We have to put it together," Greenway said. "I don't know if it's our conditioning. I couldn't even tell you what it was. Unfortunately we just have to deal with it right now. It's going to be a rough week and we just have to stick together and hope (the media isn't) too hard on us."
Notes: Peterson's first TD of the game, a 1-yard run at the end of the first quarter, was the 53rd of his career. That broke Chuck Foreman's franchise record. Peterson also surpassed 6,000 yards rushing for his career. ... Vikings CB Chris Cook left the game in the first half with a strained groin and did not return. Asher Allen filled in at nickel back in Cook's absence. ... RB Toby Gerhart had the two longest plays of his young career with a 31-yard run and a 42-yard reception in the first half. ... After being shut out last week, Shiancoe had three catches for 28 yards against the Bucs.