A day after missed challenge, red flag is raised for Vikings

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 29, 2011 - 12:10 PM

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier acknowledged his staff missed a key opportunity, and sounded the horn for better communication.

It required a keen eye to instantly notice on television the third effort Percy Harvin made on his final run Sunday. Stopped at the 1 and sandwiched between Falcons linebacker Curtis Lofton and safety Thomas DeCoud, Harvin never stopped fighting.

Like a hooked trout on the deck of a boat, the Vikings receiver slithered and thrashed, ultimately stretching the football across the goal line before hitting the ground.

Officials blew the whistle with 4:59 to go, ruling Harvin down inside the 1.

Thirty-seven seconds elapsed before the Vikings next snapped the ball. What happened in that brief window of time -- or more exactly, what didn't happen -- became the latest lowlight of a trying season in which the Vikings continue to show poor reaction time and ill communication.

Had only a Vikings coach in the press box seen a replay of Harvin's desperate lunge, they could have insisted coach Leslie Frazier dig out his red challenge flag and call for a review.

Had that happened, it's logical to believe Harvin would have been awarded a touchdown, pulling the Vikings within 24-21.

Instead, Frazier stepped to a podium Monday and was left to dissect the penultimate miscue of a 24-14 loss.

This was like chasing a shot of Wild Turkey with a warm glass of Pine-Sol.

Upon further review, Frazier had seen what so many viewers at home noticed: Harvin's extra effort and possible touchdown. So why hadn't any of the Vikings coaches with a bird's-eye view and a TV replay relayed that message?

It was obvious Monday that question was gnawing at Frazier.

"We have a couple of coaches who are reviewing replay upstairs, and they'll point something out to me if they think it's something we need to challenge," he said.

"And we've got to review our communication based on that play alone. We really have to review that going forward. Seeing the play and realizing there was a chance for us to maybe get a challenge in there is something we have to re-look at."

Fox play-by-play announcer Thom Brennaman recognized the officiating oversight just an instant before the Vikings subsequently failed on a fourth-and-1 run with Toby Gerhart, killing their comeback chances.

"I gotta wonder," Brennaman bellowed, "if Leslie Frazier is getting any information. On second look, it looked like Harvin got into the end zone."

Twenty hours later, inside the field house at Winter Park, Frazier was miffed he hadn't gotten the appropriate alert from upstairs. He noted there is one Vikings assistant in particular who watches for replays and "a couple guys who can have my ear."

Frazier did not identify those coaches by name.

"The guys that are doing it, they're more than adequate," he said. "And they've been pretty good about it throughout the year. Because we've had other situations where we've had to challenge plays and communicate. But we've got to improve it.

Asked what specific explanation he received from his assistants for why things went awry, Frazier steered into the vague lane.

"We were talking about some things that occurred and some things that we've got to do a better job of communicating between myself and them," he said. "If we're ever in that situation again, we just have to be a lot clearer on what we want to get communicated."

Ironically, and perhaps fittingly, it was a roundabout and confusing answer designed to call for sharper communication.

Such is life for the 2-9 Vikings, left to digest yet another disappointing loss with its own unique set of frustrating details.

Said Frazier: "The way our season has gone, anytime you're in a close game like that ... one play or one sequence can turn the game.

''We've seen that in our case a number of times. When we don't execute correctly from a coaching standpoint, just like with our players, it can cost you. We've got to continue to work as a team and as a staff in getting those situations corrected."

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