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Updated: October 12th, 2010 5:36am
Pelissero: With so much talent, is it possible to be this mediocre?

Pelissero: With so much talent, is it possible to be this mediocre?

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by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- If you squinted hard enough through the rain, the lightning, the turnovers, the missed assignments, the penalties, the misfires, the mess in general ... you could see it.

You could see the Minnesota Vikings are absurdly talented on offense. Way too talented to play as they did for 2½ quarters in Monday night's 29-20 loss to the New York Jets, who could have laughed the visitors off the field by halftime if they weren't dropping passes and settling for five field goals.

Scan every NFL roster and try to find a better running back-receiver-playmaker combo than Adrian Peterson, Randy Moss and Percy Harvin. They combined for 286 of the Vikings' 336 net yards and all three touchdowns once Brett Favre decided to give New York more than tabloid fodder down the stretch.

"We're 1-3, and that's disappointing," said Favre, who had only three completions at halftime and finished 14-of-34 passing (41.1%).

"I think everyone who watches us play sees flashes of a team that could be 3-1, could be 4-0 -- whatever you want to say. It's not that we're not capable -- we're very capable."

Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier pulled Favre into an embrace before the game and whispered something in his ear.

The guess here is it went something like this: "HELP ME."

Peterson had an electric 30-yard run and a 20-yard reception. Harvin and Moss each had 30-plus-yard touchdowns, and Harvin added a toe-tapping 11-yarder that will go down as one of the best grabs in the NFL all season.

"There isn't a defense that can match us up man-to-man," Harvin said.

But all the points came after the Vikings failed to run more than four plays on their first nine possessions, which ended in six punts, two Favre fumbles and a kneeldown.

Favre was inaccurate, the protection unit botched multiple blitz pickups and center Ryan Cook got benched.

"Collectively," Moss said, "if we put our hearts and souls into what we're trying to do, I think the sky is the limit for this team."

At this point, this Vikings offense is the thunderstorm that hovered over New Meadowlands Stadium on Monday: low-grade drizzle interrupted by isolated downpours and lightning so powerful it'd be downright frightening to see on a regular basis.

Favre committed three turnovers and the Jets turned them into 13 points. New York ran 78 plays to the Vikings' 62, eventually wearing down a defense that seemed gassed on a 66-yard touchdown drive that pushed the difference to nine with 4 minutes, 30 seconds to go.

"I didn't think we were ready coming out of the locker room to play this football game, at least offensively," Childress said. "We're going to take that long look, long plane ride back and get 'em ready for the start of work this week."

The distraction excuse might work for Favre if he hadn't been doing this all season. His postgame "I'm still learning how to play with these guys" routine has gotten stale from a guy who decided not to show up in Mankato, even if it's ultimately on Childress and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell to figure out how to maximize the impact of their playmakers.

A wet ball surely didn't help Favre's accuracy on Monday, but an 0-for-6 start on third downs and six pre-snap penalties is criminal. So was his decision to throw into coverage for tight end Visanthe Shiancoe on a failed two-point conversion that would have tied the game and the late throw for Shiancoe that Dwight Lowery picked off and returned 26 yards for a pivotal touchdown.

"There's a lot of football left, and with all of the mistakes we made (Monday) or the missed opportunities, we still had a chance to win the game," Favre said. "That's encouraging -- that's what we have to build off of."

Bottom line: unless Favre's balky throwing elbow explodes, it's probably a matter of when, not if, the offense's talent overcomes everything else.

The problem is two more weeks have passed, there's another mark in the loss column and When doesn't seem that much closer.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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