Minnesota Vikings: Inside Slant, Monday 21 Nov 11

The Vikings talk about all the talent they have, but through 10 games, that’s all it is. Talk.

With a 27-21 loss at home to the Raiders, the Vikings now head to Atlanta with a 2-8 record and a chance to post the worst start in franchise history.

Not even the worst team in franchise history – Les Steckel’s 1984 team – started this bad. That team, which finished 3-13, was 3-7 after 10 games.

“Well, you guys have heard the saying, You are what your record says you are,’” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. “We’re 2-8. … We’re a 2-8 football team.”

The only other time the Vikings started this poorly was their first two seasons in 1961 and 1962. In 1961, they won their 11th game. In 1962, they tied their 11th game.

Atlanta no doubt will be favored, especially if Vikings running back Adrian Peterson’s sprained left ankle doesn’t allow him to play on Sunday.

Peterson had the ankle rolled from behind by a defender on a 12-yard run late in the first quarter. He had to be helped off the field and was carted to the locker room.

He didn’t return to the playing field, but watched the second half from the sideline. An X-ray on the ankle was negative and an MRI was scheduled for Monday.

Peterson’s status for the Falcons game will be determined later this week. If he can’t play, Toby Gerhart, a little-used second-round draft pick from 2010, would get his third career NFL start.

Gerhart has power and deceptive moves. But being Peterson’s backup comes with virtually no workload. He went into Sunday’s game with 17 carries, six fewer than 185-pound receiver Percy Harvin. Gerhart had seven more carries against the Raiders.

Gerhart would have been more of a factor if the Vikings hadn’t been outscored 21-0 in the second quarter.

The Vikings played with the same sloppiness that they’ve been talking about correcting the past three months. They had nine penalties, five turnovers and a botched hold on a field-goal attempt. The turnovers and the botched hold led to 24 Raiders points.

“I know everyone is tired of hearing it, and I’m tired of saying it,” tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said. “We beat ourselves again. Same old story, man. Same old story.”


NFL Team Report – Minnesota Vikings – NOTES, QUOTES

LINEUP WATCH: The Vikings’ defense is crumbling. Injuries forced the team to use new starters at free safety (Tyrell Johnson), outside linebacker (Kenny Onatolu) and left cornerback (Asher Allen). They also had to use Benny Sapp as their nickel back just five days after signing him off the street. Sapp hadn’t played since being released by the Dolphins after their season-opening loss to the Patriots. Johnson could get another start next week becauseHusain Abdullah is coming back from a concussion. Allen will continue to start because Antoine Winfield (clavicle) is on injured reserve. And Sapp will continue as the nickel back for as long as he’s healthy.

BY THE NUMBERS: The Vikings’ turnover margin was minus-four in Sunday’s loss. The Vikings had been respectable in the turnover margin. In fact, their plus-4 didn’t match their record. Against the Raiders, the Vikings had five giveaways and one takeaway. The Falcons are plus-1 on the season after beating Tennessee.


NFL Team Report – Minnesota Vikings – STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL


–OLB Erin Henderson missed his first game of the season because of what was called a slight hamstring injury. Special teamer Kenny Onatolu had to make his first NFL start since joining the Vikings from the CFL three years ago. Onatolu had only one tackle and was often out of position.

–FS Husain Abdullah was inactive after suffering his second concussion in four games. He was replaced by backup strong safety Tyrell Johnson, who has been a disappointment since being taken in the second round of the draft in 2008. Johnson was run over and blasted onto his back on Michael Bush’s 2-yard touchdown run.

–QB Christian Ponder continues to look like a rookie. He threw three interceptions. Two of them led to 10 points. One of them came in the end zone. He has promise, but these are the growing pains the team will have to live with. On a positive note, Ponder also showed the poise to come back late in the game and throw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph. He set the score up with a nice 37-yard pass to Visanthe Shiancoe to the 1.

–OLB Chad Greenway had 15 tackles and his first sack of the season. But he still is making too many tackles downfield. He’s also missing tackles near the line of scrimmage.

–DE Jared Allen, who went into the game with a league-high 13.5 sacks was held without a sack. Literally. He was essentially tackled by left tackle Jared Veldheer on what could have been a sack of Carson Palmer. The shutout snapped Allen’s franchise record for consecutive games with a sack at 11.

–DT Kevin Williams, who has been struggling with plantar fasciitis, had his first sack since the second week of last season.