Kevin O'Connell takes responsibility for Vikings' slow second half vs. Saints - Sport News

Kevin O’Connell takes responsibility for Vikings’ slow second half vs. Saints

Kevin O’Connell deserves a ton of credit for how explosive and successful the Vikings’ offense was as they built a 24-3 lead in the first half of Sunday’s win over the Saints.

He’s also willing to take responsibility for how poorly they played in the second half.

The Vikings managed just a single field goal and 91 total yards after the break, allowing the Saints to make it interesting and ultimately lose by one score following several opportunities to tie the game. Minnesota’s final six possessions resulted in five punts and a missed field goal, with only three first downs during that span.

The Vikings did have a 29-yard Ty Chandler touchdown run in the fourth quarter negated due to a holding penalty on Brian O’Neill — a call that Josh Dobbs described as “a little bit questionable.” But for the most part, they couldn’t get anything going on offense in the game’s final two periods after cruising to 297 yards in the first two quarters.

It’s possible that the Saints — who ranked in the top ten in most defensive stats coming into the game — made some good halftime adjustments. It also seemed like O’Connell’s play-calling got a lot more conservative in the second half, with the Vikings leading by as many as 24 points.

“I think it comes down to knowing the fact that you want to be aggressive, but you also want to walk out of the stadium still winning the turnover battle,” O’Connell said. “And I was that confident in our defense, that if we didn’t give them anything and we played smart with the clock, that we could get it down to a situation where maybe we can get a third and 1 and get a touchdown on that (Chandler run). We did, and that would take us to 34 (points), and then it gets pulled back and we don’t convert and we ended up punting and try to pin them deep there.

O’Connell also elected to kick a 54-yard field goal on fourth and 3 from the Saints’ 36 on the opening play of the fourth quarter. That would’ve extended the lead from 16 to 19, but Greg Joseph pushed it wide right. That’s a situation where O’Connell perhaps should’ve been more aggressive and given Dobbs an opportunity.

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