A new low for Vikings
DETROIT — Visanthe Shiancoe's anger became more apparent with each word that came out of his mouth.
"Oh yeah, it's frustrating," Shiancoe said. "Just look at my face right now, man. I can't control this. I'm disgusted a little bit. Not a little bit, a lot. I'm disgusted a lot."
Shiancoe was talking about the Vikings' uninspired effort in a 21-3 loss to the New York Giants on Monday night at Ford Field. The tight end, however, could have been referring to the entire season.
The Vikings' loss in a "home" game that had been relocated to Detroit after the Metrodome roof caved in early Sunday morning officially eliminated this now nomadic group from the playoff picture. It also came with Brett Favre standing on the sideline, his NFL-record streak of 321 consecutive starts including postseason ended by a sprained throwing shoulder and numbness in his throwing arm.
The anger that seemed to emanate from the Vikings locker room came far too late to make a difference on Monday, and likely was a realization that a season in which expectations were so high when it began now will be over in 12 quarters.
With Tarvaris Jackson getting his first start at quarterback since the 2008 season, the Vikings offense looked hapless for much of Monday as interim coach Leslie Frazier lost his first game after victories over Washington and Buffalo.
The Vikings (5-8) finished with a season-low 164 yards of offense, converted two of 16 third-down opportunities and took 10 penalties after having a combined seven in the first two games under Frazier.
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was held to a season-low 26 yards on 14 carries — his worst output in more than a year — and the Giants running back tandem of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for 116 and 103 yards, respectively, each scoring a touchdown. Jacobs had a long run of 73 yards, and Bradshaw scored from 48 yards against a defense that had given up only four 100-yard rushers since the 2006 season.
Thousands of Vikings fans made the trek to Detroit to watch a game that attracted 45,910 customers — most of the tickets were free — but the fact that snow caused the roof at the Dome to cave likely saved the Vikings from getting booed off the field.
"It's embarrassing," Vikings defensive end Jared Allen said. "Every Sunday, that's what people remember, what you did last Sunday. It's not from a lack of preparation, it's not from a back of — I don't know what it is. We just got to get better. That starts with me, it starts with everybody. Fundamentally, we weren't sound today."
The problem for Allen and Co. is that it's too late. Next Monday night's game against Chicago will be the first the Vikings have played in a long time simply for pride. The Vikings took the New Orleans Saints to overtime in the NFC title game last season before suffering a heartbreaking loss and then arrived in Mankato this summer with hopes of taking the next step.
Excitement grew when Allen, Steve Hutchinson and Ryan Longwell went to Mississippi in mid-August to convince Favre that instead of retiring he should return with them. Favre did exactly that, warned everyone that repeating the success of 2009 would be very difficult and was proven right in a way he couldn't have predicted.
Included was the fact that Favre missed his first start since Sept. 27, 1992, when he began his remarkable streak as a member of the Green Bay Packers. Jackson stands to be an unrestricted free agent after this season depending on what happens with the collective bargaining agreement, and there were those who wanted to see him get an opportunity to start again.
He got that chance Monday and completed 15 of 30 passes for 118 yards with one touchdown and an ugly 46.2 passer rating. He left the game at three different points — once because of an injury to his right big toe — and was replaced by rookie Joe Webb, much to the delight of the frustrated Vikings fans who had traveled to Detroit.
"As an offense we didn't play well at all together as a unit," Jackson said. "Starting with the quarterback first."
With owner Zygi Wilf watching the game from the sideline, Frazier didn't get much help from his players in his quest to have the interim title removed. Wilf was a lifelong Giants fan before buying the Vikings in 2005 and often only stands on the sideline when the Vikings play the Giants.
Asked if he consoled his team after the game or was fired up, Frazier said: "I just wanted to make them aware that moments like these it's so important that we stay together as a team, it's easy to point fingers and say, 'If this had happened, if that had happened.' You can't do that.
"One of the reasons we were 2-0 was because guys were staying together, encouraging one another and playing together as a unit. You have to be able to handle adversity — and this is adversity here — in order to bounce back and have success next week. The only way you do it from the successful teams I've been around is you don't panic. You don't begin to point fingers and play the blame game. You go back, you watch the tape and you fix it."
Frazier couldn't be blamed for trying to stay positive, but at least on Monday night Shiancoe was having none of it — even after leaving the stadium.
"I apologize to the fans that had to witness that type of abomination tonight," he posted on Twitter. "Just embarrassing & disgusting."