Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.
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By Jim Souhan
Miami Gardens, Fla.
In an attempt to make sure Teddy Bridgewater experiences all there is to experience in an NFL season, the Vikings on Sunday attempted an onside kick from their own 20 yard line.
It was that kind of day for the Vikings. Bridgewater often played brilliantly, but failures on defense and special teams led to a 37-35 loss at Sun Life Stadium, meaning the Vikings will finish under .500 for the second straight season.
Without much time to throw Bridgewater completed 19-of-26 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns. His only interception came on a ball that Matt Asiata bobbled into the air. But he’ll get credit for a ``quarterback loss’’ because the Dolphins shredded the Vikings’ defense, scoring touchdowns on five consecutive possessions.
The Vikings’ remaining goal: To avoid going winless in the NFC North on Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium against the Bears.
Head to SouhanUnfiltered.com to hear my podcasts, including chats with Chad Greenway and Jarius Wright.
The Vikings offered a complete NFL experience on Sunday. They entered a game as severe underdogs, took a commanding lead, then gave it away, finally falling after giving up a late field goal and throwing incomplete on fourth-and-five at the two-minute warning.
They lost to the Detroit Lions, 16-14. If you like moral victories, this was one of the better ones of the season.
Teddy Bridgewater played almost flawlessly. It was the ``almost’’ that cost the Vikings the game.
He threw interceptions on two consecutive passes in the first half, turning a 14-0 lead that accurately indicated the Vikings’ dominance into a 14-10 lead at the half. He also missed a wide-open Jarius Wright on the last drive of the game, needing about 35 yards to set up a potential game-winning field goal.
With the Vikings’ defense playing well against Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford, Bridgewater again looked almost flawless in the second half. But with no running game to speak of, and kicker Blair Walsh missing one long attempt, and having a short one blocked, the Lions eventually wore down the Vikings and won it with a late field goal.
A victory for the Vikings would have been their first against a good team this season, and their first in the division. They need to beat Chicago in the last regular season game to avoid going winless in the NFC North.
Bridgewater was remarkably accurate on almost all of his throws. His bad throws cost him, and his team. That’s life as an NFL quarterback.
We'll have complete coverage of the game later tonight on Startribune.com, and in the Monday paper. (Buy the paper - you get to see Jerry Holt's great photos.)
My latest podcasts, including those with Jarius Wright and Chad Greenway, are up at SouhanUnfiltered.com.
Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes calls Lions star Calvin Johnson the toughest receiver he has to face.
``He broke Jerry Rice's record, didn't he?'' Rhodes said. ``Anybody else do that?''
Rhodes pick for his second-toughest receiver to face might surprise you. Or not, if you pay attention to the NFC North.
``Jordy Nelson is the next-toughest guy I've faced,'' Rhodes said. ``The way he reacts to the ball, the way he runs his routes, the way you can tell that he's studied so much film, looking for an edge. That makes him very tough.''
After reading Mark Craig's cool piece on Adam Thielen and Cordarrelle Patterson in today's Strib, and hearing Vikings coach Mike Zimmer continue to hope aloud that Patterson will become a great receiver, it's pretty evident that Patterson hasn't or doesn't know how to apply himself.
With his size, speed and talent, Patterson doesn't have to become a latter-day Jerry Rice in terms of route running, or a latter-day Cris Carter in terms of competing for the ball. He just has to become a reliable and competitive route-runner.
You wonder whether he has that nasty compettive streak that other great receivers have.
Rice once told Bill Walsh to run a sweep on the first play of a playoff game, so Rice could start the game by flattening the corner assigned to him. Carter became one of the most dedicated athletes I've ever met.
Patterson seems like a nice guy who doesn't understand what it takes to be great.
It's interesting that Zimmer has taken a positive approach with him, while pushing harder with other young players. It's almost an admission that pushing Patterson might not do much good.
Did a short video with Michael Rand, speaking about Zimmer's work this year. Should be up on startribune.com shortly.
Today's podcast at SouhanUnfiltered.com is with Strib hockey writer Michael Russo. Tonight's will stream live on that website at 5 p.m. from Kieran's Irish Pub in downtown Minneapolis. My guest is Jayhawks frontman Gary Louris, who is playing Thursday night at the Cedar Avenue Cultural Center with Haley Bonar. We'll do an hour of music and conversation, mixing in a little sports talk. Please stop by and say hello.
Previous podcasts on the site feature Chad Greenway, Mike Grant, Mark Craig, Glen Perkins, Craig Leipold, Russo, Paul Molitor and Ross Bernstein.
You never know what you’re going to get when you sit down to interview a star.
You might catch them on a good day, or a bad day. They might have something else on their minds. They might like, or not like, something you’ve written about them in the past. They might not have anything to say, or go into the interview with the intent of getting through it without saying anything notable.
I visited Bud Selig in his office after he threatened the Twins with contraction. He gave me an hour. For an hour, I tried to get him to admit some culpability in the situation, to offer some details about the Pohlads’ willingness to have their team contracted. He deflected every question.
Yesterday, I sat down with Adrian Peterson after practice. I prepared questions on five different topics, hoping he would be interesting on at least one of them. I started him with questions about being around other celebrities at the celebrity softball game at the All-Star game at Target Field.
Then I started asking football questions, and he offered up all of the interesting stuff that is in today’s column: That he wants to break Emmitt Smith’s record, that he considers Barry Sanders the greatest back of all time, that he wants to be the greatest player who ever lived, that he wants to retire as a Viking, and that he thinks Norv Turner’s offense will be the best he’s played in.
I’d like to take credit for masterfully dragging all of that out of him, but I can’t. Peterson was ready and willing to open up, and I was lucky enough to be there.
I’ve always found him to be a remarkably engaging and approachable superstar. Here are a few of the things he said that didn’t make the column:
-The importance of winning a Super Bowl: ``One thing people will be shocked to hear me say is, I’d give it all away for a Super Bowl. I’m not a selfish player. I’ve never been a selfish player. It’s not about me. I set my goals, but if we win and I’m rushing for 75 yards and helping us win, I’m happy. This is a team game and the ultimate goal is a championship.
``Any way I can help, in the passing game or a running game, I’ll help. It might take 200 yards rushing. It might take catching the ball. Whatever it takes, I’m all in. I want to hold the ultimate trophy up, and look at all the guys I played with, and know they can’t take that away from us. That’s what I’m all about.’’
-His willingness to set dramatic goals for himself, like rushing for 2,500 yards this season: ``You only live once. Why limit yourself?’’
-What it was like playing in the All-Star game celebrity softball game at Target Field, and having Jenny Finch throw a couple of fastballs by him: ``That was fun. It was a great experience to be around some different people. That was my first time experiencing the celebrity all-star game. Hopefully I’ll be invited back. It was cool to be around some of the legends who play baseball, and Nelly, and the celebrities out there.
``And Jenny Finch? I knew she looked athletic and a lot of people were talking about her, but you thought, `A woman? Shouldn’t be too bad.’ She proved me wrong. It was fun. It was for the fans, and I enjoyed it.
``She threw that fastball, and was like, `Whoa, this just got serious.’ I thought maybe I should have just had her stick to underhand pitching. But I love challenges, so I was like, bring it. I tipped one of them, at least.’’
-Being a low-profile superstar, who had other stars bowing to him: ``I know! I noticed that, too. I thought, man, I guess I have some pull. My friends tell me this all the time – the way you react, you don’t realize the type of star ability you have. It definitely stood out in that setting. Being around them and still getting recognized, it was cool. I just enjoyed blending in.’’
-Being a star who doesn’t seek every endorsement or photo op: ``That’s definitely by design. It’s just my mentality. That’s my vibe. I’ve always been that kind of low-key, solo-type guy. I really don’t like too much attention. That’s the way I’ve always been. I’ve been dealing with it since Little League, and then I had that little blank area of my life where I got off-track, but then in high school, my junior and senior year I was the No. 1 player in the nation. There was a lot of recognition that came with that. I’ve always shied away from attention since that.’’
=On entering a season as a 29-year old at a position where being 30 is dangerous: ``It just means that time flies. But, to be honest, I feel like I’m a different breed than 99 percent of the running backs in the league.’’
I'll be on 1500ESPN at a different time today, 11:15 instead of 12:15. Back to regular programming after that.
We'll run Sunday Sports Talk 10-noon on Sunday at the 1500ESPN stage at the State Fair.
It's usually difficult to invest much emotion in NFL coaches. They're mostly vagabond mercenaries who travel from city to city, knowiing they'll most likely be fired within two or three years, and they often display all the interpersonal charm of vagabond mercenaries.
Leslie Frazier was, and is, different. He brought with him a remarkable personal story and a unique personal touch. He was the rare NFL head coach who became beloved by people at all levels of his organization, who made sure he ate lunch with different employees every day, who was about more than winning and losing.
Of course, losing did him in. He won 18 games in three full seasons as the Vikings' head coach, and that number justifies the Wilfs' decision to fire him, whether I agree with it or not.
It's easy to blame the head coach when an NFL team loses, but I never believe it's that simple. With the exception of Joe Gibbs, every great coach in recent NFL history has been defined by the play of his quarterback. I believe that if Frazier had been given a franchise quarterback, he would still be employed. If he was capable of winning 10 games with an erratic Christian Ponder, what could he accomplish with a real NFL quarterback?
Rick Spielman has a good batting average while running the Vikings' draft, but his choice of Ponder cost Frazier his job.
So while the Wilfs and Spielman begin their search for a new coach, what will matter most is the combination of coach and quarterback upon which they settle.
Frazier has been blamed for the choice of Bill Musgrave as offensive coordinator. I've been given indications that wasn't his decision alone. Alan Williams wasn't his first choice as defensive coordinator, either.
If you want to blame Frazier for something, blame him for not playing a bigger role in defensive play-calling, and for not forcing Musgrave to use Cordarrelle Patterson more early in the season.
I was lucky enough to spend time with Frazier in his hometown of Columbus, Ms. I saw the remains of the shack in which he was raised, and met with people who are still close to him.
He's a remarkable human, and if he had been given a good quarterback, he'd stil be employed.
I'll be on 1500ESPN (that's 1500AM) at noon to talk about Frazier. My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.
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