Dalton: Vikings Offense Playing Without Confidence
The Vikings offense that struggled in its
opening game against New Orleans didn’t do much to change its profile
yesterday, losing to Miami at Mall of America Field 14-10.
After the game the Vikings were 0-2 in the
standings and observers, including former Vikings assistant coach
Dean Dalton, wondered if a first quarter decision
to decline a field goal opportunity was a major mistake.
On the Vikings' opening possession in the
first quarter they drove to the Miami 27 where they faced a fourth down
and two yards to go. With the fans cheering (of course), Vikings coach
Brad Childress decided to try for a first down, but a Brett
Favre pass was incomplete.
“I can’t believe he (Childress) did that,”
former Viking Mike Morris said on KFAN Radio after the game.
Morris and Dalton preferred the almost
certain three points a field goal would have provided. The argument is
why not take the points and put Miami behind early.
Instead of a 3-0 Vikings lead, Miami took
over at its own 27 yard line and scored a touchdown nine plays later.
“Miami is not a high scoring team,” Dalton said. “They’re a ball
control team with good defense. When you have (face) that kind of team,
take the points every time you can get them. That’s potentially a 10
point swing and momentum.”
Childress said his decision was about being aggressive in approach. “I
thought we had good momentum right there, and I was trying to play off
that," he said. "It’s like going for two points early in the game. Would the three
points have been nice? Yeah, three points would have been nice, but
there’s a lot of other plays to be made going down the line. Just trying
to be aggressive, and send a message to our team. I thought we were
moving the ball pretty well right there.”
The Dolphins led 7-0 at the half and were
ahead 14-0 with less than seven minutes to play in the third quarter.
The Vikings recovered a Miami fumble at the Dolphins one yard line and
converted that into a touchdown late in the third quarter.
With 7:56 remaining in the fourth quarter,
Ryan Longwell kicked a 28-yard Vikings field goal to make the score 14-10.
Later in the quarter Vikings linebacker Erin Henderson recovered
a Miami fumble at the Dolphins’ 24 yard line. Because the Vikings needed a
touchdown, the drive ended on the Miami one yard line with about two
minutes remaining in the game.
In the last minute of the game, the Vikings
drove inside the Miami 30 yard line looking for a touchdown without
success. If the Vikings had come up with three points in the first
quarter, they would have been in position to win the game 16-14 with a
last period field goal.
The day ended with a second
consecutive loss. There were somber faces and quiet voices in the
Vikings' locker room after the game. NFC North Division rivals Green
Bay and Chicago are 2-0, the Vikings 0-2.
The Vikings must now play Detroit (0-2) at
home next week, then take a bye before facing a demanding October
schedule against the Jets, Cowboys, Packers and Patriots with three of
the four on the road.
“They’re not in a great position (record),
and they’re not playing with confidence offensively.” Dalton said. “The
defense continues to play well.”
The decision to forego the first quarter
field goal is no doubt understandable to some observers. A first down
might have sent the Vikings' offense on the way to a
touchdown, boosted confidence and helped provide a win. This is an
offense that has produced but 19 points in two games while the defense
has given up only three touchdowns (one score yesterday came from
recovering a Favre fumble in the end zone).
Dalton said Favre and the passing game are struggling because his
personnel is different than a year ago. Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe,
a Favre favorite remains a weapon, but wide receiver Sidney Rice
is sidelined indefinitely and the team’s other big play making receiver,
Percy Harvin, has missed practice time with Favre because of
migraine headaches. Wide receiver Bernard Berrian and Favre have
yet to click with one another.
The passing game looks out of sync.
There's not much explosiveness. Favre, who had three interceptions and
a fumble, looks like a quarterback in search of help. Struggling is the