FITZ BEAT, By Larry Fitzgerald—Vikings have growing pains

 

SEATTLE — The consequences of change are sometimes demanding; the result is that you have to live with it. The Minnesota Vikings last year fired Head Coach Brad Childress after a 3-7 start. That’s what the fans wanted and demanded; so Vikings fans, be a man about it and live with the result of change. Back in 2002, the first year of Head Coach Mike Tice, was the last time the Vikings started a season 0-3. So really, you had to know this was coming? Vikings lose Sunday at home to Detroit 26-23 for the first time since 1997. The Lions are 3-0 for the first time since 1980 and tied for first place in the NFC North with the Green Bay Packers. In 2002 the Vikings finished 6-10; again, Sunday the Vikings started great leading 20-0 at halftime and blew another double-digit lead. Quarterback Matthew Stafford threw two second-half touchdown passes to help the Lions force overtime and won it when kicker Jason Hason kicked a 32-yard field goal to end Detroit’s long 13-year losing streak at the Dome. Calvin Johnson had seven receptions for 108 yards and two touchdowns. The Vikings leading in the fourth quarter 20-17 had the ball at the Lions 17 on fourth down needing a yard. Instead of taking the sure Ryan Longwell field goal and extending the lead to 23-17, Head Coach Leslie Frazier was persuaded by Adrian Peterson and others to go for it. The Vikings went for it, giving the ball to running back Toby Gerhart who was stuffed on the play. Lions take over on downs. And the Lions later tied the game; if the Vikings had kicked a field goal in that situation, they likely would have won. “We thought we had a good play, a play we were confident we could get inches on; they did a good job of stopping it.” Frazier said. Try putting your finger on it, and you just shake your head. The Vikings have been outscored in the second half of three games — all losses 67-6. The Vikings were also 1-15 on third downs in the second half of all three games. The Vikings as a team and a coaching staff are growing and going through growing pains. They just can’t figure out what it takes to win. They believe they are doing all the right things, but every week it boils down to three or four plays that make the difference between winning and losing. The Vikings are not making those plays: the Lions had 358 yards; the Vikings had 321. Detroit ran for just 20 yards in the game; the Vikings had 132. The Vikings again hurt themselves with 10 penalties for 79 yards.

Detroit’s Stafford threw for 378 yards and two touchdowns. Donovan McNabb, who hurt his wrist in the second half according to Frazier, threw for 221 yards and a touchdown. Defensive end Jared Allen had three sacks; Brian Robison had two sacks. One thing is certain: Teams are throwing the ball on the Vikings defense with the game on the line with great success. The Vikings stopped the Lions cold in the first half just like they did San Diego and Tampa Bay. All three of the teams came roaring back and threw the football at will like the Vikings were in quicksand. Those three teams are a combined 7-2, while the Vikings are winless. Go figure.

Fitz Notes & Quotes I was in Seattle Sunday where the Seahawks with ex-Vikings Tarvaris Jackson and Sidney Rice helped the Seahawks get a 13-10 win over Arizona. Jackson ran 11 yards for the game-winning touchdown, while Rice, making his first start of the season, had eight catches for 109 yards. Arizona star Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. grabbed his 67th career touchdown to set a Cardinals all-time team record for the most in franchise history. Fitzgerald is also featured in a special “On Athletes Giving Back” October issue cover story of Sports Illustrated Kids. It’s called “Think Pink” — that’s the color of breast cancer awareness.

Fitzgerald is the NFL’s Crucial Catch headliner, the NFL’s campaign against breast cancer. Monday, October 3 at Morton’s Steakhouse in Scottsdale, AZ, Fitzgerald will host the third annual Larry Fitzgerald and Friends Celebrity Waiter Night. It benefits the Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund and Larry Fitzgerald First Down Fund. Cost is $500; RSVP by calling 480-951-4440. “If it were any other quarterback, any of those big names, that’s a penalty,” said Mike Ditka on Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick not being protected like other NFL White quarterbacks. Vick has been knocked out of games back to back for weeks.

He suffered a concussion last week against Atlanta and a broken right hand vs. the New York Giants Sunday. Vick has been frustrated that he’ getting hit on every play. Vick is 1-4 in his last five starts. Not good. Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, and on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm; he also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2), and you can follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.