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Action Reaction: 2nd Quarter Derails Vikings Again in Week 2

Two bad streaks continued for the Vikings Sunday in a 28-11 loss to the Colts in Indianapolis.

The Vikings fell to 0-for-12 all-time in road games against the Colts franchise, even on a day when capacity at Lucas Oil Stadium was capped at 2,500 fans because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They also surrendered a safety for the third consecutive regular-season game dating back to Week 17 of the 2019 season.

Minnesota had only surrendered two safeties in one season two previous times in franchise history (Weeks 16 and 17 of 2007 and Weeks 14 and 16 of 2014).

Pre-game question: Could the Vikings avoid costly mistakes from Week 1 and play the Week 2 game more on their terms?

The setting — home with no fans at U.S. Bank Stadium in Week 1, or away Sunday with limited crowd interaction — hasn't seemed to matter for the 2020 Vikings.

The defense has been unable to make a stop to get off the field, and the offense hasn't had a possession last six or more minutes.

Solid opening drives in each game have given way to horrendous second quarters, putting Minnesota in halftime holes.

The end result is the Vikings are 0-2 to start a season for the first time since going 0-3 to open 2013 the season before Head Coach Mike Zimmer took the helm.

Only 12.1 percent of teams (30 of 247) that have started a season 0-2 since 1990 have made the playoffs since 1990, so the uphill battle will continue.

In-game action:

Situational football has been a hallmark of the Vikings under Zimmer.

In-game wins on third downs, in the red zone or with goal-to-go and with time of possession and/or field position have often correlated with Vikings victories in the past six seasons. Playing clean football — avoiding penalties and self-harm — also have helped.

The Vikings lines on Sunday:

2-for-9 on third downs on offense (22 percent), although the defense did limit Indianapolis to 3-for-11 (27 percent)

Red zone: Vikings (1-2); Colts (2-4)

Goal-to-go: Vikings (1-2); Colts (2-2)

Time of possession: Vikings (21:35); Colts (38:25)

While the last one is a whopping discrepancy, the average starting field position was equally, if not more, important. Minnesota averaged starting at its own 20-yard line, compared to Indianapolis taking over on average at its own 45.

The Vikings had scoring drives on which they gained 60 (plus 15 via penalty) on their opening drive and 61 (plus a 14-yard penalty) on their final possession. In between the 21-yard field goal by Dan Bailey to start the game and the 3-yard touchdown run by Dalvin Cook that might have swayed some fantasy games, the Vikings had one drive of more than 20 yards out of their other eight possessions.

The Colts, however, gained at least 35 yards on five of their 10 possessions and ended four such possessions with points. 

The worst absences of complementary football were: 1) the offense following Eric Wilson's first career interception at the Minnesota 5-yard line to halt Indianapolis' opening possession with a quick three-and-punt that lasted 1:39; and 2) special teams allowing a punt to be downed at the 2-yard line with 5:59 left in the first half.

The score was 7-3 at that moment, but a safety three plays later completed the momentum shift to the Colts, who then closed the half by alternating between two drives for field goals and two interceptions of Kirk Cousins.

The Vikings ran the ball just 18 times, compared to 40 attempts by the Colts.

Postgame reaction:

"Our field possession was awful in the second quarter, and then interception and the safety, all those different things that happened right before halftime. We can't give up those kinds of points and plays and field position. This team has kind of been built on controlling the time of possession, playing great in the red zone and on third downs, and we haven't been doing that very well. We're going to have to get back to work and try to figure out what's wrong because the identity of this team has not been what it has been for the last six years."

— Zimmer

"It always helps when you run the ball well. I think we had productive runs in the flow of the game. But you're not going to hit every run, so when you don't hit one, being able to still keep the drive alive, convert third downs, those are all the things we as an offense are trying to do. We've got to improve a lot of different areas, I would think, after watching the film, and we'll get to work on it right away."

— Cousins

"I can get better. We can get better in the passing game, running game, pass protection. We can get better, period. It's a lot of things out there for us to go correct and watch this film and go evaluate ourselves and be our own self-critics. I'm going to be mine, and I know the other guys are going to hold me responsible and I'm going to hold them responsible. We've just got to be adults about it and just know what we've got to go correct."

— Dalvin Cook

"Giving up 150 yards on the ground, that's not something that we pride ourselves on here. So that's something that we have to fix."

— Anthony Harris