Frustrated at 1-3: Vikings face steep climb back to top

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Glitz and talent don't win games, as the Vikings have been reminded.

For all their ability and all their high-profile players, the Vikings are having trouble channeling that into victories. In a stark contrast from last season, Brett Favre has been at the forefront of the struggles, throwing seven interceptions and losing three fumbles through Minnesota's first four games.

Favre is 30th in the NFL with a passer rating of 67, but Vikings coach Brad Childress said Tuesday he believes his quarterback can fix the problem.

"We've seen him hit the open guys before," Childress said.

The coach also said he doesn't see the missed throws as a product of Favre's sore elbow, which the 41-year-old quarterback said bothered him more in Monday's loss to the New York Jets than at any point this season. Favre's most glaring misfire came shortly before the game-sealing interception returned by the Jets for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Favre sailed a mid-range pass over the middle to a wide-open Percy Harvin high over his head.

Childress indicated the Vikings will take steps to keep Favre from using his arm too much in practice this week. It's difficult to determine whether or not he needs more work or more rest. He has shown some flashes of his familiarly poised self, including the three touchdown passes he threw during a furious rally against the Jets. In the first half, though, he looked like a fresh-out-of-college rookie -- and that same out-of-rhythm, less-than-certain quarterback has shown up in all four games.

"Somewhere during the course of the year -- it doesn't seem like it now -- the offense is going to have to pull one out because the defense is struggling," Childress said, maintaining his optimism.

Favre has 10 of Minnesota's 11 turnovers. That's the kind of negative statistic that keeps a team out of the playoffs. Even for a proud veteran group, the momentum of a couple of victories is the only true way to build confidence.

So is this the week the Vikings break out? They host another 1-3 team falling well short of expectations in the Dallas Cowboys.

"God willing," Childress said. "Yeah, that'd be a tremendous plan."

Favre, facing an NFL investigation into allegations that he sent sexually charged messages to a woman while he played with the Jets, claimed he was focused as ever. His teammates vowed to support him.

"What goes on in peoples' personal lives, I try and stay out of it," wide receiver Randy Moss said after Monday's game. "I just try to be a friend, be a teammate. I know he has a lot on his plate and things do happen, but we're just going to stick by him."

Getting the offense back on track would go a long way toward relieving a lot of people wearing purple.

"The defense is playing outstanding right now," running back Adrian Peterson said. "We've just got to do our part."

Even without a healthy and happy Favre, Moss, Peterson and Percy Harvin ought to be enough to make the Vikings dangerous. Their challenge is figuring out how to take advantage of all that talent.

"There isn't going to be a defense that can match us up man-to-man," Harvin said. "Hopefully we can get the big plays fixed at the end of the game. There are a lot of things we need to work on. We can't expect our defense to go out there and stop everyone."

Added Moss: "Collectively, if we put our hearts and souls into what we're trying to do, I think that the sky is the limit for this team. I'm speaking on behalf of the offense. Hard work does pay off."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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