Notebook: After ugly loss, Leslie Frazier wants Vikings to move on
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings had an opportunity to head into their weekend off with a 6-2 record and plenty of momentum.
That didn't happen.
A disappointing 36-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night left the Vikings with a 5-3 record - still two more wins than they had all of last season - but also the realization that there are many areas of this team that need work.
That isn't exactly the type of tone Frazier wanted his team to take into a nine-day stretch in which it won't play a game. Players will return to practice on Monday after having Saturday and Sunday off and will next play on Nov. 4 at Seattle. Three of their next five games are on the road.
Asked how he will keep a negative mood from lingering, Frazier said: "If there's anything from (Thursday) night, that would be it. And that's what I've been wrestling with, (Thursday) night after the game and this morning as well. Because it's one game. And it was a tough loss. But it is only one game.
"You can't allow that to carry over to other games. Because I know we can play better and there are some things we have to correct. But if you don't move on from that game, you're right, it can linger and it can have negative effects on future games. So we've got to get everybody back so it shouldn't affect us."
Running back Adrian Peterson, who has rushed for more than 100 yards in back-to-back games despite having a sprained ankle, thinks the break will help
"Just being able to take a step back and relax, and you know, enjoy this off time," he said. "Get our minds right. We have Seattle coming up, which is a real good football team. We're going there on the road, so it's going to be about getting back on track."
Kyle Rudolph was believed to be Christian Ponder's security blanket when it came to potential targets this season. The 6-foot-6, 258-pound tight end did not disappoint in the first six games, catching 25 passes for 225 yards with five touchdowns.
But Rudolph was shutout for the second consecutive game on Thursday, despite being targeted four times.
"They did a good job of matching (free safety Ronde) Barber on him at times, which was good on their part, and he did a good job of covering him in isolation situations," Frazier said. "But sometimes it's more what we're trying to do, trying to get the ball to other people and understanding what we're trying to do from an offensive standpoint.
"Not so much what other teams are doing to take him away. (Thursday) what they did, it made a difference. But it allowed us to get the ball to other people. We just weren't always as successful doing that."
Clean it up
The Vikings have missed far too many tackles in the past two games.
That helped 5-foot-7 running back LaRod Stephens-Howling of the Arizona Cardinals rush for 104 yards on 20 carries and finish with 149 total yards last Sunday. Tampa Bay's 5-foot- 9 running back Doug Martin rushed for 135 yards on 29 carries on Thursday and finished with 214 total yards.
Martin had a 64-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter in which numerous Vikings missed opportunities to tackle him.
Frazier was asked if the problem was missed tackles or defenders not being in the correct gaps.
"It's more a combination of the two," Frazier said. "We've had some missed tackles the last two weeks, and we are not as forceful in our gaps as we need to be across the board. It's correctible, and we've got to get it corrected in a hurry. Because we're going to play other teams that can run the ball even better than the two teams that we just faced."
There was little doubt in the mind of Adrian Peterson exactly when the Vikings lost Thursday's game.
With Tampa Bay leading 30-17 late in the third quarter, Vikings defensive end Jared Allen and Buccaneers left tackle Donald Penn got into a scuffle. Both players received 15-yard penalties and the Metrodome got so loud that Tampa Bay had to use a time out before running another play.
Then on third-and-10 from their own 30, Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman was sacked by Allen. That forced Tampa Bay to punt and the Vikings appeared to have the momentum as they began a drive from their own 28-yard line.
Peterson, the Vikings' Pro Bowl running back, lost 2 yards on a carry, Ponder gained 6 yards on a scramble and on third down center John Sullivan's shotgun snap to Ponder hit the quarterback in the leg. Ponder recovered the ball at his own 20, making it fourth-and-18 and forcing the Vikings to punt.
"That was huge," Peterson said of the Vikings' failure to do anything on that possession. "I feel like that is where the game was lost, despite everything that happened with fumbles, despite everything that happened before.
"You're always looking ahead to the next play, taking advantage of the next opportunity. And scoring, and being down by 13, getting the ball back, we had good field position. We just didn't get anything going offensively."
Arizona's Rashad Johnson was fined $21,000 for an illegal blindside block on tight end John Carlson last Sunday while covering a punt. Carlson suffered a concussion on the play and sat out Thursday night's game.
Tom Pelissero contributed