Vikings blow 17-point lead, fall to 0-2 with loss to Buccaneers
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MINNEAPOLIS - LeGarrette Blount scored on a 4-yard run with 31 seconds left in the fourth quarter and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rallied from a 17-point deficit for a 24-20 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday at the Metrodome.
It was the third time in the past four seasons the Vikings have lost their home opener.
The defeat dropped the Vikings to 0-2 and came after a first half in which they took a 17-0 lead. A week earlier the Vikings held a 17-7 lead at halftime in their regular-season opener at San Diego.
"It's very, very, very frustarting," Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said. "But at the same time there's a lot of room for improvement. I'll say that. That's all I'm going to say about that. And you guys have seen that."
The Vikings offense had rebounded from a terrible offensive performance at San Diego to accumulate 284 yards in the opening half. However, Tampa Bay held the Vikings to 114 yards in the second half. Donovan McNabb passed for 228 yards for the Vikings after having only 39 yards passing in Week 1.
The Vikings' opening drive stalled at the Buccaneers 43-yard line after getting three first downs but it was the only time in the first half that they would fail to score.
Running back Adrian Peterson capped a 12-play, 90-yard drive when he scored on a 1-yard run with two seconds left in the first quarter.
The Buccaneers then went three-and-out and the Vikings moved 75 yards on eight plays, ending the drive with a 9-yard touchdown run by Peterson that made it 17-0 entering halftime.
Tampa Bay began to put together a rally in the second half, pulling within three points in the fourth quarter as quarterback Josh Freeman completed a 25-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Arrelious Benn with 6:39 left.
The Vikings offense took a step backward in the third quarter with only one first down.
After LeGarrette Blount scored on a 27-yard run on the opening possession of the half, Tampa Bay kicker Michael Koenen perfectly executed an onside kick that the Bucs recovered at their own 47-yard line.
Blount had a 13-yard run on first down to move the ball to the Vikings 40 and Freeman completed a 17-yard pass to wide receiver Preston Parker on third down.
Tampa Bay got to the Vikings 12 but the drive ended there as Freeman telegraphed a pass for tight end Kellen Winslow in the end zone and safety Husain Abdullah cut in front of Winslow to pick it off.
The Bucs appeared to have a 17-yard touchdown on their next possession as Mike Williams went up over cornerback Cedric Griffin and safety Jamarca Sanford to make a nice catch of a Josh Freeman pass but the apparent score was wiped out by an illegal shift penalty.
The drive stalled and the Bucs had to settle for a 36-yard field goal from Connor Barth to pull within seven points. However, their comeback was far from done at that point as the Bucs scored 14 points in the final quarter.
"It's tough to swallow," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "When you play as well as we were playing, to have the tide turn as quickly and dramatically as it did is frustrating. We have got to come back on Monday, figure out what the problem is, and get it fixed in a hurry."
The Buccaneers came out in the second half and got that 27-yard touchdown run from Blount on their first possession, changing the momentum of the game.
The Vikings got the ball back at their own 9-yard ilne with 6:39 left in the fourth quarter and a three-point lead. But the drive stalled at the Vikings 21 and Freeman started at his own 39-yard line.
Freeman completed three consecutive passes and fullback Earnest Graham ran for 5 yards and then caught an 8-yard pass to put the ball on the Vikings 16.
"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," defensive end Jared Allen said. "We've got to find a way to play for 60 minutes."
The Buccaneers had 62 yards of offense in the first half but finished with 335.
• 8: Fourth-quarter comebacks that Freeman has led in his three seasons.
• 6,000: Rushing yards reached by Adrian Peterson in his career, placing him second to Robert Smith (6,818 yards) on the Vikings' all-time rushing list. Peterson had 120 yards on 25 carries Sunday.
• 53: Vikings franchise record career rushing touchdowns for Peterson. That came on his first of the day. He ended the game with 54 rushing touchdowns.
• 32: Games in which Peterson has had 20-plus rushing attempts, a franchise record. Chuck Foreman had 31.
• 1: Fumbles by Peterson this season after he had one in the second quarter that guard Anthony Herrera recovered. Peterson had only one fumble all of last season after having 20 (13 lost) in his first three seasons.
• 1: Everson Griffen's career sack total after he brought down Freeman in the second quarter.
• Cornerback Chris Cook suffered a groin injury in the first half and did not return. He watched the second half from the sideline and was replaced in the nickel package by Asher Allen. Allen played left corner and Antoine Winfield played inside when the Vikings employed five defensive backs.
• Middle linebacker E.J. Henderson started Sunday after being held out of practice on Thursday and Friday because of swelling in his left knee. Henderson was given the green light to play after he worked out in front of athletic trainer Eric Sugarman, head coach Leslie Frazier and other members of the coaching staff before the game.
• Vikings - Longwell 22-yard field goal, 5:06. Drive: 14 plays, 72 yards, 7:45. Vikings 10, Tampa Bay 0.
• Vikings - Peterson 9-yard run (Longwell kick), 0:52. Drive: 8 plays, 75 yards, 2:47. Vikings 17, Tampa Bay 0.
• Tampa Bay - LeGarrette Blount 27-yard run (Connor Barth kick), 10:59. Drive: 2 plays, 44 yards, 0:40. Vikings 17, Tampa Bay 7.
• Tampa Bay - Barth 36-yard field goal, 0:29. Drive: 7 plays, 52 yards, 4:59. Vikings 17, Tampa Bay 10.
• Vikings - Longwell 29-yard field goal, 9:41. Drive: 12 plays, 69 yards, 5:48. Vikings 20, Tampa Bay 10.
• Tampa Bay - Arrelious Benn 25-yard pass from Josh Freeman (Barth kick), 6:39. Drive: 8 plays, 80 yards, 3:02. Vikings 20, Tampa Bay 17.
• Tampa Bay - Blount 4-yard run (Barth kick), 0:31. Drive: 9 plays, 61 yards, 3:41. Tampa Bay 24, Vikings 20.
Odds and ends
• The Vikings did individual introductions for the first time in several seasons, announcing the defensive starters. That did not come as a surprise after the offense struggled in the regular-season opener against San Diego. Former coach Brad Childress wanted the Vikings introduced as a team.
• Tyrell Johnson replaced Jamarca Sanford at strong safety for the final two series of the second quarter and to open the third but Sanford did return. Sanford had looked very good during his time in the game in the first two quarters, stuffing at least two runs.
• Backup offensive tackle Pat Brown was used in a "heavy" package on Peterson's 1-yard touchdown run. Brown threw a key block on the score.
• Wide receiver Greg Camarillo was the most notable of the Vikings' seven inactives. Camarillo, who was active in Week 1, took a pay cut before the season to remain on the roster. Defensive end Adrian Awasom (knee) was the only Viking who sat out because of injury.
• The Vikings adjusted salary-cap number is now $123,930,000. They have $4,324,464.88 in cap room available. Peterson's exact cap number under his new deal is $12.705 million -- down a negligible $70,000.
The Vikings will play host to the Detroit Lions next Sunday.
The Vikings split with the Lions last season, beating Detroit 24-10 on Sept. 26 at the Metrodome and then losing 20-13 at Ford Field in the regular-season finale.
The Vikings have dominated the all-time series against their NFC North rival, going 66-31-2 and 36-12-1 at Metropolitan Stadium and the Metrodome.
Overall, the Vikings have won 17 of their past 20 meetings with the Lions.
Detroit, of course, appears to be a much improved team and will come to Minnesota with a 2-0 record after routing Kansas City, 48-3, on Sunday.
Tom Pelissero contributed.