Nothing seemed to go the Minnesota Vikings’ way in the first half.
On defense, they were unable to contain rookie Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin, who shredded Minnesota’s defensive line for 106 yards on 14 carries (7.6 yards per carry). Although they held quarterback Josh Freeman to 10 completions on 22 attempts (45.5%) for 85 yards (3.9 yards per attempt), they surrendered two touchdown passes, one to wide receiver Mike Wallace, another to fullback Erik Lorig.
On offense, running back Adrian Peterson was one of the few bright spots, rushing 10 times for 60 yards (6.0 ypc). But he also lost a fumble, as did wide receiver Jerome Simpson. Minnesota’s lone touchdown of the half came on an 18-yard pass to wide receiver Percy Harvin.
Game Balls — offense
Unlike some of his teammates, Percy Harvin held on to the ball, averaging 16.75 yards per catch and scoring a touchdown. Minnesota will rely on him in the second half to ensure they stay in this game.
Doug Martin took control of this game and didn’t flinch from contact. In fact, he seemed to seek out contact, even as he hurtled his body through the air for the extra yard or two. He typified the concept of sacrificing your body for the team in the first half.
Game Balls — defense
No one on the Minnesota defense really stepped up, although strong safety Jamarca Sanford did record four tackles.
Linebacker Mason Foster recovered the fumble coughed up by Jerome Simpson. Veteran defensive back Ronde Barber forced the punt by Adrian Peterson, which was recovered by linebacker Quincy Black.
There is plenty of blame to go around, but quarterback Christian Ponder has underperformed so far. Although he did not give up a turnover in the first half, he did make several questionable decisions that could easily have been disastrous. To be fair, however, he didn’t get much help from his wide receivers or ball carriers.
Up 10 points, Tampa Bay gets the ball back to start to half. By all appearances, the winning formula for the final two quarters will be pretty simple: hand the rock off to Martin as often as possible, throwing just enough to keep Minnesota from stacking the box. For their part, the Vikings need to get something started on offense. They are only down by two scores, but cannot afford any more costly turnovers. As poorly as the offense has performed, if they let the Buccaneers score on their opening drive, this game could get out of hand quickly.