Obviously that was a frustrating performance by the Vikings in a 30-17 loss to Tennessee.
The offense had way too many self-inflicted mistakes to overcome.
– They committed four turnovers that led to 21 Titans points. There were dropped passes and seven offensive penalties. Down by 6 late in the game, Bernard Berrian didn’t hear the play call in the huddle and lined up on the wrong side, forcing Gus Frerotte to call the team’s final timeout.
The offense had five penalties in the third quarter alone. That left the Vikings in unfavorable down-and-distance all game.
Consider: The Vikings were 7-of-15 on third down conversions. They had third-and-1 once and third-and-4 twice. The other 13 third-down situations were longer, from third-and-5 to third-and-13. The average distance faced in those 16 situations was third-and-7.
– The Vikings were upset about referee Pete Morelli’s refusal to overturn a call that led to a Titans touchdown in the second quarter. Tennessee was leading 13-7 and faced a fourth-and-2 from the Vikings 3 yard line when Titans coach Jeff Fisher decided to go for it.
Quarterback Kerry Collins hit receiver Justin Gage with a short pass to the right. Gage was met quickly by cornerback Antoine Winfield and then linebacker Chad Greenway.
Gage lunged for the first-down marker and appeared to lose the ball just before the whistle creating the potential for a turnover. But the play was ruled dead and the ball was spotted inside the 1-yard line for a first down.
Childress did not immediately throw his red challenge flag. The Titans quickly tried to run another play so Childress called a timeout, talked to the officials and then finally dropped the flag for a challenge.
Replays seemed to indicate that Gage was clearly short of the first-down marker. However, Morelli did not overturn the ruling and the Titans’ LenDale White scored from 1-yard out on the next play.
Minnesota also lost two timeouts, one for the challenge not being overturned and the other because Childress had called it to buy time.
“Damn disappointing is the only way I can say it,” Childress said of the decision by Morelli. “You can’t fumble the ball on fourth down, was one of my contentions, and have someone else recover it.
“[The official] ruled [forward] progress. His progress was stopped. From what I was seeing the progress didn’t make the line. I got something about we don’t have that many cameras at the game. Clearly that wasn’t a first down and you are not going to convince me that was a first down.”
Childress’ players also believe they stopped Gage short of the marker.
“That was frustrating but what can you say?” Greenway said. “You just have to keep playing ball.”
– Gus Frerotte suffered a cut on his left hand and needed two stitches after banging his hand on a facemask. Frerotte was upset with Titans DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, who was called for roughing the passer after hitting Frerotte below the belt on a third-down pass from the 6.
“It was a direct shot,” Frerotte said. “That just isn’t called for in this game. To take and just spear somebody like that. That’s pretty ridiculous. I mean the guy plays hard and he goes all out, but he wants to do those kind of things.
“I’ve been playing this game a long time and that’s no different than a guy coming off the side and hitting you in the knee without anybody touching him. Those kinds of things just can’t happen.”
Vanden Bosch defended his hit, saying it was within the rules.
“I knock quarterbacks down plenty of times a year,” he said. “I know how to hit the quarterback. You have a small window of when you can hit the quarterback. I did not hit him below the knees. I hit him in the thigh and that is where the rule book tells me to hit the quarterback. I am not a dirty player, but if that is his opinion I guess he is entitled to it.’’
– Vikings left tackle Bryant McKinnie is eligible to return to the team tomorrow but it’s not clear whether he will have access to him or not.
We’ll check back when we get to Winter Park tomorrow.