Through the first seven weeks of the season, the Vikings were one of the NFL’s best stories: a 3-13 team in 2011 that saw its heart and soul – Adrian Peterson – severely injure his knee late in the year than shuffled its roster significantly during the offseason, leading to five wins in the first seven games of 2012.
But even a fast 5-2 start wasn’t enough to make everyone believers. A date with the 2-4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the grand stage of NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football figured to change all of that, though. A win on Thursday night would’ve moved the Vikings to 6-2 through the first half of the season, and it would’ve placed them among the NFC’s elite teams.
But it wasn’t to be. The Buccaneers came into Mall of America Field and had their way with the young Vikings. There were flashes of excitement – Christian Ponder threw a perfect pass to Percy Harvin for an 18-yard TD and Adrian Peterson continued to destroy opposing defenses with a 64-yard TD run and another 123-yard outing – but it was mostly a disappointment.
“Hats off to them,” Vikings DE Jared Allen said. “They came in here and kicked our butts. Top to bottom, I don’t know if we overlooked them or not, but it’s an embarrassing game for us.”
The Vikings will quickly go from darlings of the NFL who were slowly earning the respect of outside observers to an inconsistent team that’s too young and not consistent enough on offense to make it through a rigorous second-half schedule that includes four games against Chicago and Green Bay and road games in four of the final six weeks of the season. But both of those descriptors are tags placed upon the team by outside observers.
What matters most is how people within the team respond to the Vikings 36-17 loss on Thursday night. And judging by what Allen – one of the team’s best players and clearly one of its leaders – was saying in the post-game locker room, the Vikings will end up being just fine.
“One thing I know for sure, we will come back and we will learn from this and we’ll be a better team for it. One thing about this game, it will humble you. Week-in and week-out. You can never read the clippings. You can never believe the hype. You can never believe the game is just a ‘gimmie.’
“Hats off to them. They came in here and took care of business. We have a tough part of our schedule ahead and we need to take care of some business.”
Tags: Jared Allen
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