The Minnesota Vikings defeated the Detroit Lions 14-13 in their final game of the season and the last game ever in the Metrodome Sunday afternoon, December 29, 2013 in Minneapolis. Minnesota Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel (16) blew a kiss to his family as he walked off the field Sunday afternoon.
Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune
Vikings win season, Dome finale
- Article by: Chip Scoggins
- Star Tribune
- December 30, 2013 - 11:56 PM
Leslie Frazier stood near the locker room entrance and hugged players as they walked through the door. Down the tunnel, Kevin Williams and Jared Allen lingered on the field, surrounded by cameras and microphones, as fans cheered one final time.
It sure felt like a farewell, not just to a crusty old stadium but to a few Vikings stalwarts and their coach as well.
The Vikings and their fans said goodbye to the Metrodome, their Teflon-covered home since 1982, with a 14-13 victory against the disinterested Detroit Lions on Sunday. Fans provided a standing ovation and one last roar as the Vikings took a kneel-down with 40 seconds remaining on the clock.
As that chapter in team history closed, the organization began an offseason that could bring wholesale changes as soon as Monday.
Frazier could be fired after meeting with owners Zygi and Mark Wilf and General Manager Rick Spielman. Frazier’s contract expires after the 2014 season, but it’s highly doubtful that ownership would allow him to coach a lame-duck season.
Frazier said he had a conversation with the Wilfs on Saturday but declined to reveal whether his job status was discussed.
“I have a contract, our staff has a contract through 2014 and I hope that the Wilf family will honor that and give us a chance to come back next season and try and get our quarterback situation fixed, try to get the depth of our roster along with some other areas that need to be fixed,” Frazier said. “I hope they’ll give this staff the chance to finish what we’ve gotten started. We’re only a season removed from the playoffs. I think our guys are still playing hard and we’re under contract.”
Zygi Wilf offered little comment to reporters as he left the locker room to return to the field for a postgame ceremony as part of the Metrodome festivities.
“Basically I want to focus on that part of it because being here as our home it’s very emotional and I’m very glad we left on a good note,” he said.
Asked if he has a time frame on a Frazier decision, Wilf said, “I have nothing to say. I’m going to enjoy, we’re all going to enjoy this win and move on.”
Spielman did not speak to reporters after the game.
Frazier’s comments on the quarterback situation were jolting because he’s handled criticism of that area delicately in the past. The team’s decision to draft Christian Ponder 12th overall in 2011 turned out to be a major whiff. The quarterback merry-go-round this season became a disruption and an embarrassment and reflected the organization’s desperation at that position.
In his postgame comments, Frazier twice noted that the Vikings need to “fix” that position. He also acknowledged that he consulted with ownership and Spielman before every quarterback change this season.
“It’s a quarterback-driven league, and if you don’t have that position functioning the way you need to, I don’t care what you need to do in the other areas of your team, you’re going to be fighting uphill,” he said.
Frazier has posted a 21-33-1 record since taking over for Brad Childress with six games left in the 2010 season. He guided the Vikings to a postseason appearance last season, but he went 3-13 in 2011 and finished this season 5-10-1.
Asked if he is proud of his résumé, Frazier again referenced the deficiencies at quarterback.
“I’ve done everything I can do in my tenure here as the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings,” he said. “I just know in our league you need to get that quarterback position fixed. You can talk about defense, you can talk about offense, you can talk about special teams. To answer your question, absolutely, yes I am.”
Frazier described his job status as an “elephant in the room” last week and asked his players not to focus on it. Adrian Peterson and several teammates again voiced their support for Frazier after the game. Peterson reiterated that he intends to share his feelings with the Wilfs on Monday.
“He’s a great coach and even a better human being,” Peterson said. “That’s what I love about him the most. This season, man, it’s been tough. Five or six games we lost in the last seconds of the game. And that changes the whole dynamic when it comes to decisions that are about to be made.”
Change seems inevitable, though. Allen and Williams likely played their final game — their 97th together along the defensive line — in a Vikings uniform. A roster shake-up looms. And a coaching change appears imminent.
Frazier said he is not concerned about his fate.
“I just have a lot of belief in my abilities as a coach and have a lot of belief in the guys on our team, a lot of belief in our staff,” he said. “For that reason, you don’t have to walk in fear. You just know that things are going to work out.”
Chip Scoggins • firstname.lastname@example.org
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