Notebook: Vikings don't put much stock in 2011 loss to Buccaneers
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - The Minnesota Vikings returned home last season after losing their opener at San Diego and jumped all over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first half.
The Vikings went into the locker room with a 17-0 lead and it appeared as if they would even their record. The only problem was the Buccaneers rebounded to outscore the Vikings 24-3 in the second half en route to a 24-20 victory.
The Vikings gave up the winning points with 31 seconds left in the fourth quarter when running back LeGarrette Blount scored on a 4-yard run.
The Vikings went on to finish 3-13. Tampa Bay didn't finish much better, ending the season at 4-12. Coach Raheem Morris was fired after the year.
This season has been much different for the Vikings and coach Leslie Frazier, who could see his team improve to 6-2 with a victory Thursday night over the Buccaneers at the Metrodome. Tampa Bay is 2-4 under first-year coach Greg Schiano.
So how much do the Vikings go back and watch what happened to them in that loss to the Bucs?
"I watch matchups," Vikings defensive end Jared Allen said. "Obviously they're a different team, they've got a different coaching staff, we're a different team. But I'll go back and watch how Donald Penn (the Bucs left tackle) played me on certain blocks.
"But you can't go really go back and watch schematically what happened and what fell apart, just because it's totally different. But the memory is still there, don't get me wrong. I think everyone on this team remembers we were up 20-0 at the half and fell apart."
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said he had not put himself through watching the second half of that game yet but he planned on doing so.
"One of our players who was on the team last year came to me (Tuesday morning) and said, 'I can't believe we lost that game last year,'" said Frazier, whose team blew a 20-0 halftime lead over Detroit the week after that loss to the Buccaneers. "But they're a different team, we're a different team. You only look at personnel if you go back and look at that game. We're two totally different teams."
Another tough test
After facing Arizona standout wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald last Sunday, the Vikings defense will go against Tampa Bay's Vincent Jackson this week.
Jackson, who is 6-5, 230 pounds, leads the Buccaneers with 27 receptions for 586 yards and five touchdowns. He signed a five-year, $55.6 million free-agent contract last March that included $26 million in guarantees after spending his first seven years in San Diego.
Vikings cornerback Chris Cook was asked how Jackson compares to Fitzgerald, who is 6-3, 218 pounds, and Detroit's Calvin Johnson, who is 6-5, 236 pounds.
"(Jackson's) a certain type of guy, big body type of guy and he boxes out well," said Cook, who is 6-2, 212 pounds. "Generally the same type of guy, but they all bring different stuff to the game. Calvin is probably the fastest out of the three. It's hard to say who's the most physical, but they all like to go up and play the ball and they just like to take shots with them down the field."
Fitzgerald caught four of the seven passes thrown his way Sunday and finished with 29 yards receiving. In the Vikings' 20-13 victory at Detroit in Week 4, Johnson was targeted 12 times and caught five passes for 54 yards.
"We basically have the same type of game plan (for Jackson)," Cook said. "Just take away the big plays to him and take away the big passes down the field to those guys."
Frazier, meanwhile, said he likes what he has seen from Cook in his matchups against some of the NFL's elite receivers.
"I think his confidence is just growing," Frazier said. "Early in the season I thought he was coming along, but he has really taken a leap over the last two or three weeks. I've just been very, very impressed with the progress he's made."
Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder said Tuesday that with a short week of preparation he already is moving on from his subpar performance last Sunday in a victory over Arizona.
"We're not thinking about Arizona anymore at all," said Ponder, who completed 8 of 17 passes for 58 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions against the Cardinals. "Such a quick turnaround, we play in 48 hours, a little over 48 hours. So we've moved on as a team."
Ponder has seven turnovers in the past three games, including six interceptions, reminding some of the struggles he began to go through last season as he got more starts.
"You obviously don't want to get worse," Ponder said. "Our objective is to progress every week, and I know I need to make a big progression from Sunday to Thursday. That's what we try to do every week and that's something I definitely need to do this week."
Ponder said the biggest thing he took from Sunday's game - one in which he posted a 35.5 passer rating - was "moving on quickly."
Nick Ridley contributed