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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Zulgad: Perfect no more: Vikings put forth an offensive and embarrassing effort in first defeat

By Judd Zulgad

Mike Zimmer labeled it as “embarrassing,” the way the Vikings’ offense and special teams played in a 21-10 loss Sunday at Philadelphia. Quarterback Sam Bradford termed it “unacceptable.”

Pick any word you want to describe the Vikings’ first loss of the season, and embarrassing and unacceptable are a good start, but the most important thing is the mistakes of Sunday are not repeated and that they serve as a learning experience for a team that might have gotten a bit full of itself after a 5-0 start.

“It was a disappointing day today,” Zimmer said after watching the Vikings become the final NFL team to suffer a loss this season. “I thought we played … embarrassing really is the word in at least two of the phases. I’m very disappointed in the performance that we gave today.”

Want to know why the Vikings coach uses every opportunity possible to remind his team that they aren’t as good as they think? We saw the perfect example on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.

The only unit that held up its end of the bargain was a defense that entered the game giving up an NFL-low 12.6 points per game. The Eagles scored 13 points against Minnesota’s defense, with six of those coming as the result of Vikings’ turnovers.

The Vikings entered Sunday not having turned over the ball on offense. But that changed when, under pressure, Bradford threw an interception into the end zone on a pass from the Eagles’ 6-yard line in the first quarter. That was Bradford’s first interception in his five starts. The Vikings also would end up with five fumbles, including three that were recovered by the Eagles.

The Vikings’ problems started with an offensive line that has managed to make us forgot that our top concern only a few weeks ago was kicker Blair Walsh.

Veteran Jake Long was signed during the bye week to provide assistance at left tackle after T.J. Clemmings looked both helpless and hapless at times during the Vikings’ victory over Houston in Week 5.

After getting limited practice time, Long was given the occasional opportunity to play on Sunday as Clemmings moved from left to right tackle. It quickly became obvious why Long had been sitting on his couch.

Long was far from the only problem for an offensive line that was a point of concern entering the bye week but has graduated to crisis mode. The Eagles found it easy to get to Bradford, sacking him six times, hitting him 12 times and forcing two lost fumbles on drop backs.

The problem is the Vikings have more than $30.8 million of salary-cap space invested in players sitting on injured reserve and reported only have $44,434 in available cap space. In other words, no Pro Bowl lineman is coming through the door to save the day.

Bradford will take criticism for his performance, but that’s the easy way out. He completed 24 of 41 passes for 224 yards with a touchdown and a 71.6 passer rating, easily his worst rating since joining the Vikings in a trade with the Eagles just before the season.

Far too often, Bradford had no time to throw the ball or survey the field for open receivers.

“The way we played was unacceptable,” Bradford said. “Obviously, we did a lot of things we hadn’t done in the first five weeks.”

The offense wasn’t alone in stinking up the joint.

While Walsh’s 48-yard field goal in the second quarter gave the Vikings a 3-0 lead, the Eagles took the lead when Josh Huff went 98 yards on the ensuing kickoff. Walsh had a chance to slow Huff but appeared uninterested.

The Eagles led 18-3 early in the fourth quarter, and were punting from their own 9-yard line, when the normally sure handed Marcus Sherels fumbled Donnie Jones’ punt and Trey Burton recovered at midfield.

Philadelphia moved 47 yards on nine plays before getting a 21-yard field goal from Caleb Sturgis to increase its lead to 18 points.

The fact the Vikings lost a game should have come as no surprise. It was going to happen at some point and it likely was going to happen on the road. It was how they lost that was disturbing.

There was far too much sloppy play on both sides – there were a combined eight turnovers (four by each club) – and a team that usually pays attention to the details frequently did no such thing on offense and special teams.

“We turned the ball over offensively, we dropped balls, we got the quarterback hit,” Zimmer said, “ … we got three shots in the red zone in the first half, we throw an interception. We gave up a 98-yard kickoff return, we fumbled a punt. If you are going to do those things you have no chance to win.”

The Vikings also likely won’t have a chance to consistently win if Bradford can’t remain healthy and on the field. After what we saw Sunday, Zimmer has to have some serious concerns about whether this offensive line will be able to improve itself enough to keep the quarterback upright.

The post Zulgad: Perfect no more: Vikings put forth an offensive and embarrassing effort in first defeat appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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