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    Vikings vs. Bills Post Game Articles

    [size=13pt]Defense shoulders responsibility in loss[/size]

    Though the offense has struggled to score touchdowns, the defense is focused on improving play on its side of the ball.

    Judd Zulgad, Star Tribune
    Last update: October 01, 2006 – 9:41 PM



    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. - In the wake of continued offensive struggles in a 17-12 loss to Buffalo on Sunday, some members of the Vikings defense decided to do some finger-pointing. What was interesting, though, was those players were pointing a finger at themselves.
    Cornerback Antoine Winfield: "We didn't make the plays that we needed to make. I think there were a few second- and third-and-longs that they converted on us. A lot of missed tackles."

    Middle linebacker Napoleon Harris: "We definitely feel like defensively if we had made the plays we needed to, the outcome of the game would have been different."

    The Vikings' defense has not given up more than 19 points in a game this season, yet the feeling, from defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin on down, is that the unit can play better. That inward focus on improving is one reason there doesn't seem to be any dissension between the defense and an offense that ended a stretch of 12-plus quarters without a touchdown late in Sunday's game.

    "We have enough issues ourselves," Tomlin said. "We have to control what we can control. Anything else is a waste of time in terms of our energy and our effort."

    One play that stood out to members of the defense came on the opening drive of the third quarter. Facing a second-and-20 from their own 42, the Bills picked up a first down when quarterback J.P. Losman escaped pressure and lofted a pass down the sideline over Winfield and into the hands of receiver Josh Reed for a 23-yard gain. Six plays later, Peerless Price scored on an 8-yard reception.

    "I had an opportunity to make the play, the ball went over my head and they converted right there," Winfield said. "It's the little things. We'll just get back in and try to correct those."

    The defense did a good job against Bills running back Willis McGahee, holding him to 78 yards on 28 carries; Losman passed for 222 yards, including two completions of 23 yards, and one touchdown. He finished with a 101.3 quarterback rating and helped the Bills convert five of 14 third-down situations. "We stop the run, we've got to also stop the pass," said defensive tackle Kevin Williams, who had one of the Vikings' season-high three sacks Sunday. "It's hand in hand. We did an OK job."

    They did more than OK on back-to-back Bills drives in the second half. Quarterback Brad Johnson threw interceptions that gave Buffalo the ball at the Vikings 32-yard line and then at the Buffalo 48. The Bills came out of that with three points.

    "We play to play defense, and if they give us a blade of grass to defend, we have to go out there and defend no matter what the situation," Williams said of being put in tough situations.

    That attitude comes from Tomlin, who had a quick answer when asked whether any members of his defense appeared upset about having to defend a short field. "There better not be," he said. "It's football. We have no control over how we take the field, we have all the control over how we get off. Regardless of the circumstance, however we take the field is how we take it. We have a job to do when we go out there."


    Judd Zulgad • [email protected]

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    Re: Vikings vs. Bills Post Game Articles

    [size=13pt]Offense is stuck in neutral[/size]

    Two interceptions, dropped passes and penalties added up to missed opportunities against an opponent that, while not flashy, offered an object lesson on the value of offensive persistence and efficiency.

    Last update: October 01, 2006 – 11:57 PM

    Anagging concern about inefficiency in the red zone has evolved into a full-blown crisis as the Vikings mustered only a touchdown in the final minutes Sunday and another late rally faltered. Two interceptions, dropped passes and penalties added up to missed opportunities against an opponent that, while not flashy, offered an object lesson on the value of offensive persistence and efficiency. The defense continues to be the team's strength, steady and hard-nosed. The Vikings won their first two games of the season with last-minute heroics, but have lost their past two games by running out of time. The offense needs a jolt before time runs out on the season.






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    Re: Vikings vs. Bills Post Game Articles

    [size=13pt]Seen this act before[/size]

    Brad Childress' version looked just like some previous Vikings teams, coming out a bit flat on the road. The Vikings continued an alarming season long trend: penalties, dropped passes and sluggish offense.

    Inside The Game Kevin Seifert
    Last update: October 01, 2006 – 10:26 PM


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- As the sun poked through the morning clouds Sunday, the Vikings jogged into Ralph Wilson Stadium in their new road uniforms -- purple pants with gold piping and fancy new horns to jazz up the helmets.
    They featured a new coaching staff, 11 new starters and a total of 23 new players who have no history with the deep-seeded malady once described as Purple Haze.

    They look different. They think originally, basing their thoughts on fresh philosophies. They have infused new blood into the locker room. Yet when it came to keeping their poise on the road Sunday, we regret to report, these were the same old Vikings.

    These numbers should sound familiar: 12 penalties, two turnovers and no touchdowns until a mad scramble to make up a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter. It all added up to a 17-12 loss to Buffalo, a game that followed the pattern of many road defeats in recent Vikings history.

    The Vikings had more penalties (eight) than points (six) through the first three quarters, managing just 164 offensive yards and trailing 17-6 before coach Brad Childress opened up the passing game. Marcus Robinson's 29-yard touchdown reception cut the lead to five, but two more mistakes doomed their comeback: right tackle Marcus Johnson's false start on the ensuing two-point conversion attempt, and Robinson's drop of what might have been a game-winning touchdown with 1 minute remaining.

    "When you look at what we did in the fourth quarter [166 offensive yards], that just makes you angrier," guard Artis Hicks said. "That's when you saw what we can do when everybody is focused. Had we focused and come together earlier, we might have been 3-1 instead of 2-2."

    A week earlier, the Vikings had walked off the Metrodome field in stunned silence after giving up a late lead to Chicago. Their malaise might have carried over during practice; on Friday, Childress characterized the players' approach as "going about their business." Sunday, that businesslike persona was no match for a Bills team thriving on its home crowd.

    It took only one mistake to start the inevitable emotional slide: Taylor's questionable call for pass interference on the opening drive, turning a first down at the Bills 13-yard line to a third-and-14 at the 28. Ryan Longwell kicked a 37-yard field goal, but the Vikings did not manage another first down until less than a minute remained in the half.

    Their defense played sufficiently, holding the Bills to 296 yards, but Bills receiver Peerless Price made the play of the game in the third quarter by squirting through Fred Smoot's attempted tackle and racing 8 yards for a touchdown.

    "We were flat the whole game," Taylor said. "We didn't have any fire or intensity. There's nothing to explain it. I know we were on the road. But we need to know that whatever it takes to win, we've got to do that. You have to jump on a team on the road. It's a long season. We can't just say this isn't our game today.

    "We need to come to play from down one to the end of the game. The Bills are a good team, but we didn't give ourselves a chance."

    Indeed, five of the Vikings' 12 penalties were pre-snap false starts or encroachments. A sixth was declined. Defensive end Kenechi Udeze jumped offside with 2 minutes, 19 seconds left, converting a third-and-1 play for the Bills and forcing the Vikings to use their remaining timeouts in order to get the ball back a minute later.

    A year after the Vikings ranked No. 25 among NFL teams with an average of eight penalties per game, Childress' team has averaged 9.5.

    "The self-inflicted wounds are tough," Childress said. "That's my responsibility. We need to get that corrected. ... It's a matter of discipline and a matter of me doing the job of instilling that discipline."

    In his first season as Vikings coach, Childress assembled a team of talented veterans he hoped would run his brand of football efficiently while minimizing mistakes. Half the battle, after all, is not adding to an opponent's advantages.

    Childress often has said he wants his team to be "tough to beat." But on Sunday, the Bills almost couldn't help but beat the Vikings.

    In the postgame locker room, that realization left Hicks raising his voice as he shoved his belongings into a bag.

    "When we're on, we're good enough of a team that we can beat anyone," Hicks said. "There are some teams out there that when they're on, they still struggle. There's too much talent in this locker room, and we have too good of a coaching staff. If everyone does their part, we should beat anyone we play."

    If they're not on? Well, we know what happens. We've seen it many times before

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

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    Re: Vikings vs. Bills Post Game Articles

    [size=13pt]Forgoing the deep throw will keep offense no closer than 'this close'[/size]

    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y.
    Mark Craig, Star Tribune
    Last update: October 02, 2006 – 12:14 AM



    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y.
    Brad Childress held his right thumb and forefinger two inches apart last week to describe how close his offense was to functioning at an NFL level.

    He needs a bigger hand after Sunday's 17-12 loss to the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

    From the 11:09 mark of the first quarter until the 9:54 mark of the fourth quarter, the Vikings gained one first down. One.

    "The only struggle I have is I know it's a hell of an offense when it's clicking," Childress said. "I just want to see it executed better, and we will."

    But, geez, it's the quarter-mile mark of the NFL season, and the Vikings still haven't cracked 20 points in a game. They haven't started a season that way since 1993. And 1996 was the last time they went four consecutive games without scoring 20 points.

    "It's a very good system with very good players," quarterback Brad Johnson said. "If we eliminate the mistakes right from the get-go, we have a chance to be successful."

    But NFL teams never eliminate mistakes. Ever. The good teams just make enough big plays to make us forget about the mistakes. And right now, the Vikings offense is too conservative and too willing to let defenses discourage them from trying to make big plays down the field.

    The Vikings attempted a deep pass on the fifth play of the game, leading one to believe they could be willing to challenge the only defense in the league with two rookies starting at safety. But after that pass fell incomplete, Johnson threw only one more deep ball until things got desperate at the end of the game.

    "I thought [the Bills] were kind of legislating against being able to throw the ball past them," Childress said. "I think Brad looked at it well. You don't want him stuffing the ball where it doesn't belong."

    Part of that makes sense. Johnson doesn't have the arm to sling it quickly downfield. And he doesn't have the receiver to go up and either grab the ball or knock it down consistently. (Did someone say Randy Moss?)

    But, then again, when the Vikings opened it up at the end of the game, they had the Bills defense reeling. Marcus Robinson got behind the Bills for a 29-yard touchdown reception and should have caught a 50-yarder to the Buffalo 11 later on. (Note to Winter Park: Randy makes that catch.)

    "[Buffalo] bit on a couple of moves at the end," Childress said, "and we found a way to get behind them."

    Great. But where was that in the second quarter when the Vikings took possession at their 48-, 43- and 49-yard lines? They went three-and-out each time. And the only time they tried to throw deep came on third-and-6 when defensive end Ryan Denney swatted the pass away at point-blank range. It was one of six passes that were batted down by linemen or linebackers, which isn't a good stat for the offensive line.

    "You don't ever force [the deep ball]," Johnson said. "You stay within the system. We were in the ballgame the whole game. If you find the right coverage, you take your shot. If you don't have it, then you find your underneath route and play ball from there."

    Hey, the guy won a Super Bowl ring with that philosophy. But one can't help but think the Vikings' conservative style against the deep Cover-2 and Cover-3 schemes played right into the Bills' hands since Johnson rarely tested two rookie safeties with a combined seven NFL starts.

    The good news for Vikings fans is the Vikings are 2-2 without reaching 20 points. And the teams in 1993 and 1996 both went 9-7 and made the playoffs.

    So, yes, Childress can win with what he's got offensively. But let's quit pretending the offense is this close. It's not.

    We haven't reached the "We Want Drew (Henson)!" panic point, but here's where the offense actually stands:

    It's a unit that has converted only nine of its past 43 third-down opportunities; went 12-plus quarters without a touchdown until Robinson's fourth-quarter score; and at one point went three-and-out on seven of eight possessions on Sunday.

    Paul Bunyan couldn't spread his thumb and forefinger far enough apart to accurately describe how close the offense is to functioning at an NFL level.


    Mark Craig • [email protected]


    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

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    Re: Vikings vs. Bills Post Game Articles

    [size=13pt]'I've got to make that play,' says Robinson[/size]

    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. - A week after enduring what amounted to a healthy scratch, Marcus Robinson caught five passes for 78 yards in the Vikings' 17-12 loss.

    Last update: October 01, 2006 – 10:27 PM

    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. - A week after enduring what amounted to a healthy scratch, Marcus Robinson caught five passes for 78 yards in the Vikings' 17-12 loss.
    Robinson even ended the Vikings' touchdown-less streak at 12 quarters with his 29-yard scoring reception in the fourth quarter. But it was the one catch he didn't make that had Robinson shaking his head afterward.

    With one minute remaining and the Vikings at their own 39-yard line, Robinson took advantage of a busted Buffalo coverage to break free down the right sideline; cornerback Terrence McGee missed a jam at the line of scrimmage and safety Donté Whitner was late on the play.

    Brad Johnson fired the ball in Robinson's direction, but a brisk wind pushed the ball slightly. Robinson got both hands on the ball but could not control it as he fell inside the Bills' 20-yard line.

    "I absolutely should have caught that," Robinson said. "Anything that touches my hand, I should have it. I tried to tuck it, my arms hit the ground and it fell out. I've got to make that play."

    Robinson, who has two of the Vikings' three offensive touchdowns this season, left the Sept. 17 game against Carolina because of a strained hamstring. He practiced the following week, but was deactivated for the Sept. 24 game against Chicago, reportedly because he took himself out of the Panthers game.

    Sharper injured

    Free safety Darren Sharper suffered a bruised left quadriceps muscle in the third quarter, returned briefly but then left for good and was replaced by rookie Greg Blue.

    Afterward, Sharper was having trouble bending the leg but said it would be re-evaluated today. "Hopefully I'll be OK," Sharper said.

    Blue made a strong play with 4:17 remaining, tackling Roscoe Parrish for a loss of 4 yards on a screen pass, forcing the Bills to punt.

    Wind a factor

    Although the sun was shining on a 58-degree day, winds at Ralph Wilson Stadium gave the game a December feel. Wind influenced Robinson's drop in the fourth quarter and also impacted the kicking game, causing Buffalo kicker Rian Lindell to miss on a 44-yard field-goal attempt.

    Vikings placekicker Ryan Longwell's 49-yard field goal with the wind just before halftime cleared the crossbar with at least 10 yards to spare. Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, meanwhile, managed a 9-yard punt against the wind in the third quarter.

    Thomas gets start

    Dontarrious Thomas got his first NFL start at strong-side linebacker, replacing the injured Ben Leber. Leber was declared inactive after testing his sprained left knee before the game. Thomas, who usually plays middle linebacker, started for the eighth time in three seasons.

    "I'm comfortable with Dontarrious so to be honest with you I wasn't watching him directly," defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin said when asked how Thomas looked. "I assume that he played pretty solid. I don't think anything stood out from a negative standpoint."

    Thomas, who finished with three tackles, is the latest example of the Vikings' willingness to move players around.

    "When we say we're going to take a position-flexibility attitude about what we do, we mean it," Tomlin said. "He's capable, and he looked like he was pretty solid out there from an assignment standpoint."

    Fair play

    The Bills appeared to have outsmarted the Vikings after scoring the go-ahead touchdown early in the second quarter. Kicker Rian Lindell put the ball high in the air but short, enabling Buffalo's Kiwaukee Thomas to recover the ball at the Vikings 33.

    But what Buffalo didn't know was the Vikings saw this coming. That's why backup offensive lineman Jason Whittle had the presence of mind to signal for a fair catch with the ball in the air. As a result, Thomas was assessed a 15-yard penalty for interfering with Whittle's opportunity to catch the ball.

    "We worked on that play [last] week in practice," Whittle said. "We knew they had that in their arsenal."

    The Vikings' plan was for either Whittle or tight end Jim Kleinsasser to signal for a fair catch if the Bills attempted the play.

    Questionable call
    The Vikings' opening drive stalled when receiver Travis Taylor was called for pass interference against linebacker Keith Ellison on a 5-yard completion over the middle on third-and-4 at the Buffalo 18-yard line.

    Instead of first-and-10 at the 13, the Vikings had third-and-14 at the Buffalo 28. The Vikings settled for the field goal, running Mewelde Moore off left tackle for 9 yards.

    "The way it was explained to me was that [Taylor] pushed off," coach Brad Childress said. "I won't know until I look at that thing. The [official] was right on top of it. I thought the guy was playing man-to-man inside. [Taylor] took an outside edge on the guy. There's a bump inside of 5 yards that occurs. I didn't see it [as interference]."

    Not enough time

    The Vikings had the ball at the Buffalo 31 with 14 seconds left in the first half when Johnson walked to the line of scrimmage. Rather than take a quick shot into the end zone, Childress had Johnson run eight seconds off the clock and spike the ball. Longwell came on and crushed a 49-yard field goal to close to within 7-6 of Buffalo at the half.

    "We work that a good bit in training camp," Childress said. "There's a number, 19 to 21 [seconds left] where you're really pushing the envelope in terms of having a completion or a run and getting back and getting [the field goal attempt]. Nineteen is kind of our drop-dead number."

    Etc.

    • Childress decided against an onside kick after Robinson's touchdown cut the lead to 17-12 with 3:07 left.

    "We talked about it," Childress said. "But we were going good on defense, and we thought we'd get them stopped. That's half the field. If you kick it to half the field and they recover, the odds are they are going to move down and get some points."

    • After catching only three passes in the past two games entering Sunday, tight end Jermaine Wiggins led the Vikings with six receptions.

    "I know that my opportunity is going to get called and when my number is called I have to go out there and do what I have to do. That's make a play," Wiggins said.


    KEVIN SEIFERT, JUDD ZULGAD AND MARK CRAIG


    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

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    Re: Vikings vs. Bills Post Game Articles

    [size=13pt]Last-minute play is reminder of wasted opportunities[/size]

    The Vikings' 11th-hour attempt with their final possession gave the offense some fleeting hope -- but the intensity came too late. Receiver Marcus Robinson was not able to make the play of the day.

    Star Tribune
    Last update: October 01, 2006 – 10:27 PM


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. - The way the Vikings' offense has been operating, there was little reason to believe it would do much with its final possession in Sunday's 17-12 loss to Buffalo.
    So as the sputtering unit took over at its own 17-yard line with 1 minute, 39 seconds left in the fourth quarter, many in the announced crowd of 71,972 at Ralph Wilson Stadium headed for the exits. The Vikings had no timeouts left, and the feeling was the Bills' lead was safe.

    That feeling was wrong.

    Working out of the shotgun, quarterback Brad Johnson completed passes of 5 and 10 yards to Travis Taylor and Chester Taylor, respectively. An incompletion on first down was followed by a 7-yard pass to tight end Jermaine Wiggins that made it third-and-3 at the Vikings 39-yard line.

    What had changed?

    "I thought we protected a little bit better there," said coach Brad Childress, who also calls the Vikings' plays. "They had brought, I wouldn't say the all-out blitz. I thought the guys strained to compete and protect. Brad made some plays, and the receivers obviously made some plays."

    Receiver Marcus Robinson, however, was not able to make what would have been the biggest play of the day on the next snap. Going no huddle and with Johnson in the shotgun, the quarterback spotted Robinson streaking down the right sideline.

    Robinson, who had ended a stretch of 12-plus quarters without a touchdown for the Vikings offense by catching a scoring pass earlier in the quarter, saw the ball coming his way once again. He dived for the ball and appeared to have possession for a moment but lost it as he fell to the turf inside the Bills' 20-yard line.

    "I feel I should have had it," Robinson said. "The wind picked the ball up at the last minute. That's when I stretched.

    "My elbows hit the ground as I tried to tuck and I rolled over. Those are plays you have to make. ... You have to grab that ball, tuck and get it in as fast as you can."

    Bills linebacker London Fletcher was among those very thankful that Robinson wasn't able to hang on. "I was in the deep middle and ... it was, 'Oh, my goodness, I can't believe this,' " Fletcher said.

    "My heart stopped for a second," he continued. "In the past we've had situations where we haven't been able to close out games. So I'm thinking, 'Not again.' So when he dropped it, it was like, 'Thank you. This is going to be our day.' "

    The Vikings, though, weren't done. Now facing fourth-and-3 and with 52 seconds on the clock, Johnson connected with Wiggins over the middle for a 21-yard pickup. "We knew we had to get in the end zone, and we knew we had to take advantage of it," Wiggins said. "We didn't have any timeouts. I felt good because we were moving the ball."

    An offside penalty on the Bills set up a first-and-6 for the Vikings at the Buffalo 36 with 39 seconds remaining. This time Johnson found Travis Taylor for an 11-yard gain. Johnson then spiked the ball to stop the clock before overthrowing Robinson at the Bills 9.

    Fourteen seconds remained as Johnson surveyed the field for a third-and-10 play at the Buffalo 25. Not satisfied that his primary receiver was open on an out pattern, Johnson checked down and threw a pass to Billy McMullen at the 20. McMullen got to the Bills 16, but he could not get out of bounds.

    Time expired.

    "We were looking to throw the ball to the sideline so we could get out of bounds," McMullen said. "They had Cover-2, nickel zone so it was pretty hard to get it out of bounds."

    The drive gave members of the offense some hope, but it also served as a reminder of wasted opportunities Sunday.

    "We should have started with that same intensity in the first quarter and maybe it would have been a different outcome," fullback Tony Richardson said.


    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

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    Re: Vikings vs. Bills Post Game Articles

    Posted on Mon, Oct. 02, 2006

    [size=13pt]Kickers twist in the wind[/size]

    Wacky plays abound for special teams

    BY DON SEEHOLZER
    Pioneer Press


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Blame it on the wind.

    That doesn't begin to fully explain the weirdness of a game in which Vikings offensive tackle Mike Rosenthal returned a kickoff 13 yards, just four yards shorter than one of Chris Kluwe's punts.

    But it's a start.

    The Vikings' 17-12 loss on Sunday to the Buffalo Bills had all of that and more, including a game-turning fair-catch signal in the second quarter by backup center Jason Whittle that represented one of the few heads-up plays on a dry but sloppy afternoon.

    With Buffalo kicking into the teeth of an 11 mph wind that seemed much stronger, Whittle had the foresight to start waving his right arm while attempting to run under a short Rian Lindell kickoff. He drew an interference penalty that negated a Bills recovery at the Minnesota 33.

    "I underestimated how far that ball was going," Whittle said. "It was hard to judge where it was coming down. I thought it was coming right to me. It came up about eight yards short."

    With Minnesota trailing 7-3, that was a big play at the time for the Vikings and Whittle, who wasn't sure he would get the call but was glad he did.

    "The coaches had coached us up on that play this week," he said. "It wasn't just me. We knew that was in their arsenal. I'm glad we worked on it."

    Whittle also expressed sympathy for the kickers, who were at the mercy of the wind all day.

    Place-kicker Ryan Longwell said he could tell during warm-ups that it would be a long afternoon.

    "It was very difficult because it was very gusty," he said. "Going away from the tunnel, obviously you're kicking into it, so you had to hit the ball just perfect. Going the other way, it was off to your left and pretty much from your back, but it wasn't a straight wind down the field. You still had to factor it in."

    As proof, Longwell hit a 37-yard field goal into the wind that barely made it over the crossbar, then boomed a 49-yarder with the wind at his back on the final play of the first half that might have been good from 60.

    "It was consistent as far as the direction, but the intensity, it kept blowing harder and harder as the game went on," Longwell said. "It was worse in the first half than it was in the pregame, and it was worse in the fourth quarter than it was in the first half."

    Even so, Longwell said the wind wasn't as hard on him as it was on Kluwe. The wind turned one of his punts in the third quarter into a 9-yard duck that left him with a 32.5-yard average on six kicks.

    He was nowhere to be seen in the Vikings' locker room after the game, but a sympathetic Longwell said to consider the conditions.

    "When you have to put the ball out and let go, which is what you have to do punting, the wind can do anything," he said. "I would say if it's wind down the field, it's harder on a punter. If the wind's from the side, it's more difficult on the kicker. That was kind of a cornering wind so it was a little difficult on both of us."

    Don Seeholzer can be reached at [email protected]

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

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    Re: Vikings vs. Bills Post Game Articles

    Posted on Mon, Oct. 02, 2006

    [size=13pt]Offense ends drought[/size]

    Vikings finally score TD but can't complete fourth-quarter rally

    BY DON SEEHOLZER
    Pioneer Press


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — After more than 12 quarters, half an overtime and 151:20 of game time, the Vikings' offense finally ended its touchdown drought Sunday.

    Marcus Robinson's 29-yard touchdown catch with 3:07 to play wasn't enough to prevent a 17-12 loss to the Buffalo Bills, but it was the first touchdown for the Vikings' offense since his 20-yard TD grab during the third quarter of the season opener at Washington.

    Robinson had another long Brad Johnson pass slip through his fingers in the final minute at the Buffalo 15-yard line, but the veteran receiver said it still felt good to finally stick the ball in the end zone.

    "We needed points, and coach called a good play on that," said Robinson, who blew past Bills cornerback Terrence McGee up the right sideline. "He had been jumping all day, jumping short routes. He bit on the out, and I just ran an out and up. Coach made a great call."

    That was one of five catches for 78 yards for Robinson, who was inactive for last week's game against Chicago. But he still was shaking his head about the deep one that got away.

    "I was running, and the ball was coming and the wind picked it up," he said. "That's when I stretched. When I caught the ball, I was trying to tuck my elbows when I hit the ground, but that's a play you've just got to make. Somehow you've got to get that one done, and I didn't get it done."

    With 52 seconds remaining, the Vikings weren't dead yet, as passes of 21 yards to tight end Jermaine Wiggins and 11 to wide receiver Travis Taylor moved the ball to the Bills' 25 with 19 seconds on the clock.

    With no timeouts, Johnson hit wide receiver Billy McMullen for 9 yards in the middle of the field, but the clock ran out before the Vikings could get lined up for a spike attempt.

    "Obviously, in a two-minute drill, you're looking for the outside guys to catch the ball and get out of bounds," McMullen said. "They had them covered, and Brad had to come down to me, and time just ran out."

    In addition to Robinson, the Vikings got a big game from Wiggins, who caught a team-high six passes for 59 yards. But they couldn't overcome 12 penalties for 78 yards and several squandered scoring opportunities.

    "I think we had great field position several times," Wiggins said. "We're just making mistakes. We're putting ourselves in situations that we don't need. We just have to clean this stuff up. We've got to eliminate the mistakes that are killing us."

    Coach Brad Childress, whose West Coast offense has produced just three touchdowns in four games, couldn't have said it better himself.

    "The only struggle I have is I know it's a hell of an offense when it's clicking," he said, "and I just want to see us execute it better. And we will."

    Don Seeholzer can be reached at [email protected]

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

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    Re: Vikings vs. Bills Post Game Articles

    Posted on Mon, Oct. 02, 2006

    [size=13pt]More flags fall on Vikings[/size]

    Offense, defense make costly errors

    BY SEAN JENSEN and DON SEEHOLZER
    Pioneer Press


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Heading into Sunday's game, the Vikings were 28th in the NFL with 26 penalties.

    They certainly aren't going to improve after their 17-12 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

    While the Bills committed 15 penalties, the Vikings committed 12 that cost them 78 yards.

    Vikings coach Brad Childress said he takes the blame.

    "Whether you're backing up because it's procedurally, or it's offensive pass interference, the point is, you're backing up," Childress said. "We have to correct that, and that's my responsibility, and I need to get that corrected."

    Interestingly, Childress said, "the 10 penalties we had are unacceptable." Wonder what word he might use when he learns his team committed 12.

    Childress noted several plays were "drive-stoppers."

    Among the most costly:

    • Receiver Travis Taylor being called, albeit questionably, for offensive pass interference, negating a first down at the Bills' 13-yard line and setting up third and long.

    • Defensive tackle Kevin Williams jumping offside on a third-and-goal play that would have forced a Bills fourth down, after Willis McGahee was stopped just short of the end zone. Instead, the Bills got another chance, and McGahee scored from 1 yard out.

    • Receiver Troy Williamson being called for a false start that negated Chester Taylor's 5-yard run on first down. The Vikings punted three plays later.

    • Right tackle Marcus Johnson negating a 7-yard play with a holding penalty. The Vikings punted three plays later.

    • Defensive end Kenechi Udeze jumping offside on third and 1 from the Bills' 38 with just over two minutes left. That gave the Bills a first down and forced the Vikings to use their final two timeouts.

    Injury update: Vikings starting safety Darren Sharper suffered a left quad contusion in the fourth quarter. Afterward, Sharper was limping noticeably, and he couldn't bend his left leg.

    He was replaced in the fourth quarter by rookie Greg Blue.

    "I'm going to be OK," Sharper said. "I'll be OK for next week."

    Udeze was escorted to the X-ray room next to the Vikings' locker room shortly after the game. He twice declined comment when approached by Pioneer Press reporters.

    Thomas in for Leber: With Ben Leber inactive because of a sprained left knee, Dontarrious Thomas got his first start at strong-side linebacker and didn't make any obvious errors, finishing with three tackles.

    "I found out today, right when I got to the locker room," Thomas said. "That's when I found out coach wasn't expecting Ben to go."

    Thomas said he felt more comfortable as the game went along but gave himself only an average grade.

    "It was OK," he said. "The first half, I would say I was a little shaky on a few things. I was thinking too much. But in the second half, the coaches just told me to settle down and go out and play. I think I did, but I still have a lot to improve on."

    New nickel: Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield shifted into the slot Sunday in nickel situations. In the previous three games, first-year player Ronyell Whitaker played in the slot. But Whitaker gave up the deciding touchdown in last week's loss to the Chicago Bears.

    Sunday in Buffalo, rookie Cedric Griffin took Winfield's spot in nickel situations. Whitaker played but did not make any tackles.

    Playing it safe: Childress said he considered going for it on fourth and 2 from the Bills' 49 with less than eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. But he once again relied on his defense.

    "You always think about it," he said. "But you have to use your best judgment, in terms of how you feel the game is going, how you're playing offensively and defensively, and I think you have to play it to how you're playing that day."

    No run: The Vikings' run defense did a solid job in containing McGahee, one of the NFL's leading rushers.

    Through three quarters, McGahee had just 50 yards on 19 carries. But he ran for 28 yards in the fourth, including several key runs that kept his offense on the field.

    "They have great defensive tackles, and I knew we were going to have problems running (up the middle)," McGahee said.

    Added Bills coach Dick Jauron: "We wanted to stay with our game plan within reason, though we did deviate a little bit because of how good they are."

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

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    Re: Vikings vs. Bills Post Game Articles

    Posted on Mon, Oct. 02, 2006

    [size=13pt]No aid for defense[/size]

    Offense ends TD drought, but it's not enough

    BY SEAN JENSEN
    Pioneer Press


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Vikings receivers Marcus Robinson and Travis Taylor could only watch helplessly from the sideline as their defensive teammates paid the price for another inept offensive outing.

    Heading into the fourth quarter Sunday, the Vikings' offense had produced six three-and-outs, including a third-down interception, and just two field goals.

    "We didn't get into a rhythm, and we left the defense on the field a lot," Robinson said. "You hate it. They're sweating, and tired, and you're on the sideline."

    Yet for a second consecutive week, the Vikings' offense squandered a redemptive drive late in the fourth quarter and afterward stressed their potential … in the losing locker room.

    Except at least one offensive player.

    After the Vikings' 17-12 loss to the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium, Taylor questioned his offense's play and insisted they had to "man up" to raise their collective effort.

    "Our intensity was low," Taylor said. "As an offense, we've got to take responsibility. We can't keep relying on the defense to keep us in the game. They're playing at a level that hasn't been played (with the Vikings' defense) in a while."

    Through four games, the Vikings (2-2) have averaged 15.75 points a game. Even worse, that figure is inflated by one touchdown apiece from the defense and special teams.

    For a fourth consecutive game, the offense scored on its first possession, opening the game with Ryan Longwell's 37-yard field goal.

    But for a third consecutive game, the offense didn't show much life until the final quarter. In the second and third quarters of the past three games, the Vikings have managed just three field goals.

    And yet their inefficiency has been masked by the resiliency of the Vikings' defense, which limited Bills running back Willis McGahee to 50 yards on 19 carries through three quarters.

    But the defense was clearly gassed by their counterparts' mistakes and three-and-outs.

    "They have to wear down," Vikings guard Artis Hicks said. "We were able to wear (previous opponents') d-lines out. So we know firsthand. We need to take care of those guys."

    The offense provided some hope with a little more than three minutes remaining when Robinson hauled in a 29-yard touchdown pass that ended his unit's 12-quarter absence from the end zone. But the Vikings missed a two-point conversion, and the defense made a subtle error that cost the Vikings precious time.

    The defense forced the Bills to third and 1, but defensive end Kenechi Udeze jumped offside, giving the Bills another first down. Just as important, the Bills shaved another 30 seconds off the game clock and forced the Vikings to use their final two timeouts.

    But the offense moved the ball and even created a potential game-changing opportunity. On third and 3 from the Vikings' 39, Robinson slipped past cornerback Terrence McGee, who tried to jam him near the line of scrimmage, and was wide open down the right sideline.

    "I saw him, and he was wide open, and I said: 'Oh my goodness. I cannot believe this,' " Bills middle linebacker London Fletcher said. "My heart stopped for a second. In the past, we've had situations where we couldn't close out games, so I was thinking, 'Not again.' "

    But Robinson said the gusty wind affected Brad Johnson's pass, and he could not make a diving catch.

    "I should have had it. Absolutely," Robinson said. "The wind got it at the last (moment). But you got to make that play regardless."

    Fletcher's heartbeat resumed when the ball slipped through Robinson's hands.

    "I said, 'Thank you. This is our day,' " Fletcher said.

    Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield lamented an interception he thought he should have made, and he said the defense didn't get off the field enough.

    "We had a lot of penalties," Winfield said of the Vikings' 12 penalties. "We made too many mistakes as a team to win the game."

    The Bills committed more penalties (15), but they didn't turn the ball over, and they squeezed a field goal out of Johnson's two interceptions. And while the Bills' offense didn't fare much better than the Vikings', second-year quarterback JP Losman played Johnson's game to a T, being efficient (23 of 32 for 222 yards) and avoiding high-risk plays (no interceptions, no fumbles).

    The Vikings hope to regroup heading into their bye next Sunday against the winless Detroit Lions, who lost to the St. Louis Rams 41-34. The game is scheduled for the Metrodome, though a possible conflict with the Twins in the American League playoffs could move the game to Monday or to Detroit on Sunday. A decision will be announced today.

    Despite the offense's troubles, Taylor said the Vikings are unified.

    "We're one," Taylor said. "There's no finger-pointing. They've got faith in us and won't turn against us. But we've got make plays."

    Sean Jensen can be reached at [email protected]

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

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