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Monday Morning Mailbag: Breaking Down The Blowout

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No excuses. You have to bring your "A" game every week in the NFL. We were unfocused, emotionless and unprepared to defend our home field! Unfortunately, responsibility for most of that falls on coaching and player leadership! This performance was reminiscent of last year's NFC Championship Game versus the Eagles. The challenge of bringing our "A" game in every phase versus the Rams is Thursday's mission! Your thoughts, Mike?
-- Randy Gronert
Las Vegas, NV

Yes, top performance is required weekly because any team can beat any team in this League. Time and again, we see "upsets" in the NFL where a seemingly overmatched team finds a way to get the job done. You can lose a game in this League even when you play well, so playing poorly in every phases is obviously not going to lend anything positive, and that's what we saw with the Vikings on Sunday against Buffalo. We never saw how the 2017 Vikings would've responded to the NFC title game loss because that was their final game that season. We do get to see how the 2018 Vikings will respond to Sunday's trouncing, though, because a date with the Rams on Thursday night is already fast approaching.

It is time to man up and run the table the rest of the way. Then we can look back at Sunday as nothing more than a speed bump that we encountered, learned from and moved on from. Skol!
-- John Stephens

It's difficult to take any positives from the loss to Buffalo. It was just one of those games where it seemed nothing went right. In these cases, the only chance for positivity to be drawn is to use the experience as motivation to perform better and to use the mistakes made in the game as teaching lessons. I believe the Vikings did just that with their embarrassing loss to the San Francisco 49ers to open the 2015 season. The Vikings finished 11-5 that year, meaning they went 11-4 following the Week 1 loss. Later in that season, coach Zimmer acknowledged his team learned lessons from that opening-game loss that helped the team become a better team down the road. I expect this year's Vikings to use Sunday's loss to Buffalo in a similar matter. Remember, it's only Week 3. There is a lot of football left to be played!

I was stunned when I saw the score. Do you think the Vikings were complacent, still dealing with the tie game with Green Bay? Or did the Bills flat out game plan the Vikings better? Also, will this give the Vikings a hangover on a short week? Or do they rise to the occasion?
-- Allan Borchardt
Rathdrum, ID

The kicker was replaced. A new wide receiver was signed. And several Vikings made their debuts in place of injured starters. Plus, head coach Mike Zimmer said the team practiced well last week. There is enough evidence for me to truly believe the Vikings did not get complacent and overlook the Bills. In fact, I feel claiming the Vikings overlooked Buffalo is not giving the Bills enough credit for coming into U.S. Bank Stadium and playing well. That's what they did. The Bills took the opening possession and, after getting a second chance thanks to a Linval Joseph personal foul on a 3rd down stop, drove for a touchdown. Then they strip-sacked Kirk Cousins on the following two Vikings possessions and turned that into 10 points. To me, that's not the Vikings overlooking Buffalo. That's Buffalo coming in here and just playing better than the Vikings. As for how the Vikings will respond, we'll see. There are enough veterans and enough core players with experience that I can't see this team coming out in Los Angeles and doing anything but giving maximum effort and proving to be a hard team to beat.

Hard loss to watch. All three phases really struggled as momentum kept going against us early. We just couldn't catch a break and the Bills caught many. Just too much of a 1st quarter to overcome. That being said, I wanted to point out that our defense, which was on the field the majority of the game, never gave up. They didn't allow a single point from six minutes left in the 2nd quarter throughout the remainder of the game. I know what this team is and what they can be. I look forward to seeing that on Thursday. Skol!
-- Charles Nagely

I don't question anyone's effort or fight. To me, this game was about Buffalo doing a better job of executing. No Vikings will look in the mirror and say their performance was good enough on Sunday. So while Charles is correct that the defense was able to stop the bleeding before halftime, enough damage had already been done at that point, plus neither the defense nor the special teams could set up the offense with a short field. The Bills defense was able to do that for its offense three times in the first half.

All everyone could talk about before the season was the loaded NFC and the weaker AFC. The NFL looks pretty balanced to me. If I were to currently pick a stronger group, I would pick the AFC.
-- Chris Kulak

There's just not enough of a sample size for me to take a strong stand on this topic, although I agree the AFC has some impressive teams through three games. The Chiefs look unbeatable and Miami is a surprising 3-0. In the NFC, though, the Rams look like the best team in football, the Buccaneers are an upstart 2-0 team with a game tonight and it looks like the NFC South has some explosive offenses that will be hard to contain. Suffice it to say, there are no easy paths to the postseason so far.