Notebook: Another day with no sacks proves damaging for Vikings 'D'
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Minnesota Vikings' impotent pass rush punished them again on Sunday.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady completed 16 of 27 passes for 240 yards, a touchdown and a 100.8 passer rating in a 28-18 win while taking only three hits and no sacks -- extending the Vikings' franchise-worst streak to three games without a takedown.
"We pride ourselves on stopping the run and making plays like that," right end Jared Allen said, "but it comes to a point where we've got to figure something out. We know teams are going to do certain things against us, but we had opportunities (Sunday) and we had opportunities the last couple weeks. We have opportunities every game. So, we've just got to take advantage of them."
That's been easier said than done for the Vikings, whose last sack came on the first play of the third quarter Oct. 11 against the New York Jets.
A year after leading the NFL with 48 sacks, the Vikings have six through seven games -- tied with Tampa Bay and Cincinnati for the fewest in the NFL. Allen, who had 14½ sacks each of the past two seasons, still is stuck on one, which he got Sept. 16 against Miami.
"In the third quarter, I have a chance to sack (Brady), but I went to strip the ball and I just missed," Allen said. "Those plays, last year, we were making. I would have gotten a sack-strip-fumble. You never know what's going to happen. So, it starts with me, and all I can do is try and get better and see if we can't get some momentum."
Not even increased pressure sent by defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier -- who mixed in more zone blitzes and some 3-3 nickel looks -- made a difference here.
The lack of pressure was no more evident than on Brady's 65-yard touchdown to Brandon Tate, who was covered well on his initial out route and a comeback before cornerback Asher Allen lost track of him down the sideline.
"I was like, 'All right, the ball's coming out,'" Asher Allen said. "And then 8 seconds later, (Brady) just threw it up deep. So, I just -- I guess I've just got to stay on him longer."
Asher Allen was on the bad end of another key play in the fourth quarter, when his missed tackle in the flat allowed running back Danny Woodhead to turn a throwback pass into a 16-yard gain on third-and-12.
"It's unacceptable," Allen said. "Got to make that tackle."
Six plays later, BenJarvus Green-Ellis capped an 80-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run that all but sealed the decision.
"I think they got a little bit of their counter game going inside, pulling a lineman, and obviously they made that big play," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "They snuck Danny backside, had Brady roll, and that one kind of broke our back."
One week after admitting his mistake in failing to throw a challenge flag, Childress erred by throwing one on a play that had no chance of being overturned.
Safety Madieu Williams had Brandon Tate blanketed on a post pattern and appeared to have an easy interception. But the ball somehow went through Williams' hands and then to Tate, who juggled it but held on for a 32-yard gain.
The ball never came close to the ground until Tate went down with it. Childress challenged anyway, though, and the call held up.
"Initially, I was not going to challenge," Childress said, "and then I got a holler in my ear about somebody saw a different view of it. But obviously, run it over a couple of times, he had a pretty good catch there."
Childress wasn't alone. Patriots coach Bill Belichick challenged Adrian Peterson's 1-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, even though replays appeared inconclusive at best about whether the ball crossed the goal line before Jerod Mayo knocked Peterson back.
Peterson took blame for the fourth-and-goal run that came up short late in the first half.
The Vikings put in Ryan Cook as an extra lineman along with two tight ends, fullback Naufahu Tahi and Peterson, who tried to jam the run inside even though right tackle Phil Loadholt couldn't move defensive tackle Ron Brace.
After looking at the replay, Peterson said, he should have gone outside beyond right guard Anthony Herrera's kickout block.
"That was tough for us," Peterson said. "Tough for me to swallow, because I hold myself accountable on that one."
Childress defended the decision to go for the touchdown instead of kicking a field goal that would have given the Vikings a 10-7 lead.
"The big thing was ... just to be aggressive," Childress said. "Seven points was huge there. Obviously, they kneeled down ... to get out of the half. But we thought we had a good play called there and thought we had it blocked up pretty good and gave ourselves a chance, and we were going to need seven points there, we thought, as opposed to those threes."
Asked why receiver Randy Moss wasn't on the field, Childress said, "We had 'Y' personnel and three tight ends in the game. We need our blockers in there. We didn't need our decoys in there right then."
• Rookie cornerback Chris Cook once again got the first chance with the Vikings' nickel defense. And once again, Frank Walker replaced him in the first half, after Cook missed a tackle on Deion Branch's 21-yard catch-and-run gain. Wes Welker blocked Cook on the play, but it still appeared he had a chance to bring Branch down. "You've got to tackle," Cook said. "We missed a lot of tackles. I am pretty sure that will be our emphasis going into next week." Cook returned to nickel duties in the third quarter.
• Tahi's 1-yard touchdown catch from backup QB Tarvaris Jackson was the second of his five-year career. He floated into the right flat and caught a floater from Jackson, who had rolled right off play action. "It took a longer than it should have, but we still executed it," Tahi said.