Oct 25, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson (81) catches a pass over Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive back E.J. Biggers (31) during the second quarter at the Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

Vikings Suffer Total Breakdown In 36-17 Loss To Buccaneers

It started bad for the Vikings tonight and just got worse. In the first half they had no answer for Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin who cracked the 100 mark in rushing yards before halftime even arrived. Martin kept getting to the second level against the Vikings’ defense and making hapless tacklers miss. For the second straight week the Vikes made a no-name running back look like Jim Brown.

Offensively the Vikings could get nothing going. Two fumbles made life very difficult for them in the first half. A couple poor Chris Kluwe punts helped Tampa keep good field position and keep putting pressure on the defense. The Vikes managed to get one good drive going thanks to big plays by Percy Harvin. They got it to 20-10 going into the half. And that actually seemed encouraging.

But in the second half that man Doug Martin stuck the dagger in them. He took a screen pass to the house from 64 yards out. That made it 27-10 and really the game was over. The Vikes showed fight like they always do of course. Literal fight. Jared Allen and Donald Penn threw down after Penn ripped Allen’s helmet off. Allen came back the next play with a big sack to fire up the Metrodome. But the offense could do nothing with the momentum. Tampa Bay iced the game with a long fourth quarter drive filled with big third down conversions.

If you’re making a list of what went wrong in this game, you have to start with the two fumbles in the first half, one by Jerome Simpson and one by Adrian Peterson. Those were killers. Then, some pass protection breakdowns that made life tough for Christian Ponder. And Ponder didn’t make life any better for himself by making some more of his now-signature bad throws. But truth be told, Ponder did play well for stretches. He stood tall against the blitz at times and delivered some better throws including a deep one to Simpson. But the Vikes just could never get Tampa out of their aggressive blitzing. Once Tampa got the lead they just came after Ponder, crashing down on the offensive line. The Vikes made too many mistakes early and fell behind and never got out of the hole.

Big questions will linger after this game. What about Ponder’s confidence? What about the run defense? Chris Cook left the game with an injury and Josh Freeman picked on his side of the field all through the second half. What happens to the Vikings’ pass defense if Cook is out? This was overall their worst defensive effort of the year. Worse than the Redskins game. The way Doug Martin chewed them up was really unconscionable. Just a bad, bad loss all around.

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