EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) -For all the hard work and big money the Minnesota Vikings invested in becoming a better team, they started their 2008 season looking a lot like the previous version.
The defensive end to whom they gave all those millions of dollars sure didn't provide a bang-for-buck debut. The Vikings failed to record a sack, and Jared Allen - touted as an effective run-stopper, too - didn't even make a tackle.
``For me, it burns my gut,'' Allen said after Green Bay's 24-19 victory over Minnesota on Monday night. ``I feel like I could've done more to help our team win.''
Some credit, of course, went to Packers left tackle Chad Clifton.
``He does a great job on getting you to rush down the middle of him. They did a great job of getting the ball off,'' Allen said. ``Hats off to him. He's one. I'm zero.''
Allen then took his self-analysis another self-deprecating step further.
' he said.
Allen was acquired for three draft picks in a trade with Kansas City and signed an NFL-record contract for a defensive player that featured more than $31 million guaranteed.
``You want these guys to be their own worst critic,'' coach Brad Childress said Tuesday, while his frustrated players had the day off. ``He hates to lose and takes it personally, as did our whole football team.''
Though Green Bay's offensive line had problems, the ability of new quarterback Aaron Rodgers to throw quickly and scramble when he couldn't kept the Vikings from establishing a rhythm with their pass rush.
The pocket was moving, and the blocking scheme was creatively effective when it had to be. Rodgers went 18-for-22 for 178 yards and served notice the Packers aren't going to give up the NFC North just because Brett Favre is gone.
``Good for him. He's a good quarterback. Obviously time will tell all that,'' Allen said Monday. ``He got the better hand of us tonight. Congratulations to him. We'll see them when they come to Minnesota.''
eligible receiver-downfield penalty.
``That's what gets us. That's what hurts,'' Allen said. ``Even with all that, we still had a chance to win the game at the end. We didn't finish. We didn't capitalize on what we needed to do.''
That's where the offense shares blame for the Vikings' loss. Tarvaris Jackson's 35th pass and 19th incompletion became the only turnover, when the ball sailed over tight end Visanthe Shiancoe's head and into the arms of Packers safety Atari Bigby at the Green Bay 39.
``It was just too wide open for me not to complete that pass. Point blank,'' said Jackson, who slammed his helmet on the grass as he left the field following the interception.
Jackson's numerous critics certainly deepened their doubt in his ability, but Childress defended most of his performance, pointing to protection and downfield separation from the defense by the receivers as other areas in need of improvement.
``He gave our guys a chance to make plays up the field,'' Childress said, ``and he gave us a chance all the way up to the end.''
After the game, Jackson refused to pout.
``I'm very confident. There are 15 more games,'' he said. ``You can't turn your season up in one game.''

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