Vikings trouble-shooting on, off field

Moss' antics, 48-23 loss to Seahawks mean more headaches for 0-4 team

Commentary

October 01, 2002|By Bob Sansevere | Bob Sansevere,SAINT PAUL PIONEER PRESS

SEATTLE - The Vikings need Randy Moss to do something stupid again. Either that or they need a whopper of a scandal. They have to come up with something to deflect attention from just how miserable a team they truly are.

It's not just one area that reeks.

It's the offense.

It's the defense.

It's the less-than-special teams.

Probably the most encouraging thing to come out of Minnesota's 48-23 massacre Sunday night in Seattle was that Vikings coach Mike Tice was able to walk along the sidelines and chew gum at the same time without falling flat on his face.

Which is what his team pretty much did from the outset.

You probably don't need reminding, but this wasn't exactly a magnificent team the Vikings were playing. It was the Seattle Seahawks.

The Seahawks were winless and had been having a tough time scoring. They had gone six quarters without a touchdown, and their star running back, Shaun Alexander, was averaging a paltry 2.5 yards a carry.

Those statistics, of course, predated the Vikings' visit to the Seahawks' dandy new stadium.

Every time the Seahawks touched the ball in the first half, they scored. After putting up just 36 points in their first three games, they led 45-10 at halftime, and Alexander had five touchdowns, including three in the space of a minute and five seconds. Aided and abetted by two fumbles on kickoff returns and an interception, the Seahawks scored four touchdowns in the final 2:53 of the half. It was the biggest eruption in these parts since Mount St. Helens.

As for the Vikings, it was the worst half of football in franchise history. They had never given up 45 points in two quarters. The record had been 41 points.

The Vikings, by the way, are one of only three NFL teams with an 0-4 record. Even the Detroit Lions have a win.

The Vikings shouldn't even bother reviewing game footage of this spanking. They should just burn the tapes and watch a video of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre instead. There was less carnage.

Tice said he guzzled Maalox after Moss wound up in jail for that little traffic mishap he had last week. Tice better start ordering the stuff in 55-gallon drums. He could set an NFL record this season for stomach acid.

His team is pocked with trouble spots, and help isn't on the way. You could head over to Marquette Avenue in Minneapolis and pick the first 11 motorists you see making an illegal turn and put them on defense, and they couldn't do any worse than the Vikings did in the first half. How could they? The Seahawks scored all six times they had the ball on offense.

Meanwhile, Daunte Culpepper continued to extinguish himself. He might become a decent NFL quarterback again some day, but that day appears to be a long way off. Whether he was throwing the ball or running it, he looked extremely tentative. Especially in the first half, when the game was decided.

Culpepper seemed to loosen up a bit in the second half and become more freewheeling, but a) there wasn't the pressure of a tight game, and b) the Seahawks probably were sore from all the backslapping they did at halftime.

The few times Culpepper delivered the ball with some zip on it, it was usually dropped.

In one third-quarter drive, Moss played as if he were still in handcuffs. He dropped three passes in the end zone. He dropped a fourth one in the end zone on the Vikings' next possession. In that same drive, Derrick Alexander also dropped a pass that would have gone for six.

With the bye week to dwell on all the misery that has accumulated in the first four games, Tice should use some of that time to consider how poorly Culpepper has played and think about switching to Todd Bouman. He couldn't do any worse.

Tice also should review some of his coaching decisions. Suggestion: When you're down 45-10 and playing on national TV, don't attempt a field goal at the end of the half. Go for six. Nobody could rip you for that. You open yourself to some serious criticism when you're down by 35 points and attempt a field goal that is then muffed.

Then again, when you open the season with four consecutive losses, you would be criticized no matter what you do.

Maybe the best decision Tice could make is to flip the keys to his car to Moss and encourage him to go joyriding in downtown Minneapolis. Or maybe he should plant a few more blunts in Moss' car. Anything will do that takes people's minds off the way the team is playing.

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