The Minnesota Vikings lost another close game late this weekend as the Cleveland Browns, without Trent Richardson or Brandon Weeden, beat the Vikings 31-27. The Vikings are now 0-3 on the season and although many fans still have hope for another playoff appearance it no longer seems likely to happen. The season isn’t over, however, and crazier things have happened which means the Vikings and their fans should still have hope. That is why I have broken down the game from Sunday from a Vikings’ point of view and come away with these thoughts and observations.
- Christian Ponder struggled with his ball placement early and often, yet again. The Vikings were in great position early to score a touchdown and take the lead, but Ponder threw a pass in the red zone that was behind wide receiver Jarius Wright and forced him to twist his body just to make the catch. Wright went down to the ground to make the catch and thus was stopped from scoring what seemed like a potential touchdown. This has been a problem in the past for Ponder and will continue to hinder the success of the Vikings offense.
- Adrian Peterson wanted to win, badly. Peterson was fighting for extra yards as he always does, but on Sunday he was able to move piles by himself and he seemed to have an extra push with each run. Peterson was rather ineffective on Sunday running for 88 yards on 25 carries, but you could tell he badly wanted to win.
- The struggles for the offensive line unfortunately continued. Pro-Bowler Matt Kalil had a tough first game against the Detroit Lions and has continued to struggle since. The rest of the line followed suit on Sunday as they gave up a total of six sacks for a combined 33 yards. Peterson was also affected by the poor play of the offensive line, and until this unit gets better the whole offense will struggle.
- Marcus Sherels looked like a starting quality cornerback. Josh Gordon thrashed the entire Viking secondary on Sunday, but Sherels was able to total eight tackles and deflect two passes on the day. Sherels made a few impressive plays on Gordon by either deflecting the ball or making an open field tackle, but the bottom line is Sherels looked like the best corner on the Vikings’ defense against the Browns and he should see more playing time going forward.
- The two minute drill the Vikings ran at the end of the game after the Jordan Cameron touchdown was downright miserable. Not only was Ponder sacked to end the game, but he continually checked down early and completed five-yard passes when they had to move the ball down the field quickly. Ponder failed to show poise and good decision making late in the game, and although the Vikings were already in a tough spot he gave them almost no chance of driving down the field for the win.
- At the beginning, and end of the game, Ponder was booed by the Vikings faithful. Ponder was booed early in the game for his spotty decision making, but after the final sack to make the game official, he was booed on his way off the field. The Vikings fans clearly aren’t okay with an 0-3 record, and in Ponder’s third NFL season they are growing impatient and ready for the team to go in a new direction on offense.