KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Jared Allen stood inside the visiting locker room at Arrowhead Stadium, down the hall from where he made his name as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs, and tried to find something positive in another tough defeat.
“The good news is that we didn’t give a game away this time,” he said. “We just got beat.”
It all counts the same in the standings.
The Vikings, who blew big first-half leads each of their first three games, failed to mount a potential winning drive in the closing minutes Sunday. They wound up losing 22-17 to Kansas City, sending them to 0-4 for the first time since 2002.
“We’ve got to figure out a way to win,” Allen said. “Congrats to them — they played tough. For the most part, we held them to field goals and we were happy with that. But the one big play goes for a touchdown and that’s the difference in the game.”
That big play happened early in the fourth quarter, when quarterback Matt Cassel dropped back to pass and Vikings cornerback Cedric Griffin slipped to the turf.
Dwayne Bowe breezed past him and hauled in the catch, made a pirouette to get around safety Jamarca Sanford, then broke Griffen’s tackle and trotted into the end zone.
“It was a simple play, a simple hitch-and-go route,” Bowe said of the 52-yard grab, which made it 22-10. “Coach told me, ‘If I call this, will you score?’ And I told him, ‘Coach, all you have to do is put it in my hands.”‘
Cassel said the Chiefs saw a weakness in the Minnesota defense and drew the play up on the fly, just like a bunch of kids on a school-yard playground.
“It was a great adjustment by our coaching staff,” Cassel said. “They saw that they were jumping some of those routes, intermediate routes, so we thought we had an opportunity.”
The Vikings answered with a 13-play drive that Donovan McNabb capped with a short pass to Michael Jenkins for Minnesota’s first second-half touchdown of the season.
The defense held to give McNabb time to mount a potential game-winning drive, but after picking up a first down, four straight incompletions effectively ended the game.
“It’s frustrating. We’ve got to go back and do the same thing we’ve been doing the last couple of weeks and try to find a solution,” McNabb said. “We have the players. It’s just kind of doing it together.”
McNabb finished 18 of 30 for 202 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, while Adrian Peterson carried 23 times for 80 yards in another underwhelming performance.
“It’s hard to get a W in this league, and we don’t want to settle for losses,” Griffin said. “We need to start executing and stop talking. We have a lot of talent on this team and it’s sad to see that we don’t have a W yet.”
Ryan Succop was perfect on five field-goal attempts for Kansas City, the total matching Jan Stenerud and Nick Lowery for the single-game franchise record. One of the them was a 54-yarder in the second half that gave Kansas City a 12-10 lead, and a 22-yarder a few minutes later extended the advantage.
That’s when Cassel hooked up with Bowe on the long touchdown pass.
The Chiefs have gotten better each week despite losing All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles, Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry and tight end Tony Moeaki to season-ending injuries.
The defending AFC West champs lost to Buffalo 41-7 in their opener and were trounced 48-3 at Detroit, before nearly rallying in a 20-17 loss to San Diego. The miserable start had some fans calling for coach Todd Haley and general manager Scott Pioli to be fired.
The heat is off for a week.
It’s still on Leslie Frazier and the Vikings.
“When you’re 0-4, you don’t want to stay status-quo,” the Vikings’ coach said. “Just take a look at what you are doing, what you can do better. … We’ll go back, look at this tape, look at every position, try to see what we can do to have every position play better.”
Notes: McNabb’s touchdown pass was his 233rd, breaking a tie with Steve Young for 21st on the career list. … Tamba Hali finished with two sacks for Kansas City. … Allen had a pair of sacks, and has five in his last two games. … The Chiefs had not led this season until Succop’s first field goal made it 3-0. … Cassel finished 18 of 29 for 260 yards. Bowe had five catches for 107 yards.
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