Friday, September 13, 2013
Vikings: Division road games a struggle
By Ben Goessling
MINNEAPOLIS -- For a team that wanted so badly to believe its days of floundering on the road were over -- indeed, a team that squeezed its way into the playoffs with the help of two road wins last December -- the Minnesota Vikings didn't present a convincing case in the first game of the 2013 season.
In the first half of last Sunday's game in Detroit, the Vikings failed to pull away from a Lions team that was handing them opportunities in the first half. The Vikings turned the ball over four times, allowed three second-half touchdowns and lost 34-24, falling for the 10th time in their last 11 NFC North road games.
The Vikings continued their trend of falling flat on the road against NFC North foes with a Week 1 loss at Detroit.
That streak dates back to Brett Favre's triumphant return to Lambeau Field in 2009 -- and in reality, that win over the Packers only interrupted a longer stretch of futility. The Vikings have won once at Lambeau Field since 2005. Their last win at Soldier Field came in 2007: Adrian Peterson's rookie season.
It's that streak the Vikings will try to end in Chicago this weekend. And if they can't, they'll be staring at a 0-2 start to go with their continuing run of futility in the division.
"I’ve been on good teams and on bad teams. The road, when you’re a good team, those factors don’t change from week to week," coach Leslie Frazier said. "You cannot turn the ball over, you can’t put the opponent on short fields. The crowd noise, you’re on the road, you’re going to have crowd noise. This is professional football. So you don’t make excuses and come up with reasons why you don’t perform the way you perform. We have to perform better than we did a week ago. And we know how to win on the road, we proved that at the end of last season. So there are no excuses."
Though it's only Week 2, there's been a palpable tension around the Vikings this week at the confluence of their NFC North road futility and the implications of a 0-2 start. Since the NFL went to its current 12-team playoff format in 1990, only 22 teams have made the postseason after an 0-2 start. The Vikings -- who went 7-1 in the Metrodome last year -- also have to figure out how to win a home game later this month that they moved to London, so they've got even less of a cushion under their Teflon bubble than they normally would.
Defensive end Brian Robison called this weekend's game a "must win." His fellow end, Jared Allen, said the Vikings' record in Chicago is "embarrassing." And even in Week 2, turning things around against the Bears might have plenty to say about the Vikings' postseason chances this season.