A lot has happened -- more bad than good -- in the 13 months since the Vikings coach took the team's reins.
With the Vikings at 2-12, coach Leslie Frazier at least will have one good memory when he takes the field in Washington on Saturday: He won there last season in his first game as head coach after taking over for the fired Brad Childress.
It's interesting that the opposing quarterback in that Nov. 28 game was Donovan McNabb, whom the Vikings signed this year in hopes of providing some veteran offensive leadership. In that game, he threw 35 passes, completing 21 for 211 yards and one touchdown with one interception.
In that 17-13 victory last year, a healthy Brett Favre was the Vikings quarterback, and he completed 15 out of 23 passes for 172 yards and no touchdowns.
The Vikings were 3-3 under Frazier last year -- besides the Redskins, they beat the Bills and the Eagles in the Tuesday night game after the Metrodome roof collapsed.
In that game at Washington a year ago, an ailing Adrian Peterson carried the ball only six times for 36 yards while Toby Gerhart had 22 carries for 76 yards and a touchdown.
The Vikings need another victory at Washington or one at home in the season finale with the Bears if they want to avoid a 2-14 record, which would be the worst in franchise history. And Frazier certainly didn't expect to go only 5-15 since winning his first two games last season.
The Redskins are 5-9 this season, but they have won two of their past four games, have topped the 100-yard rushing mark in each those games and last week beat the then-NFC East Division-leading New York Giants, 23-10.
The Vikings, who have not won a game since defeating the Panthers on Oct. 30, might have a better chance to beat the Redskins than the Bears, if they want to avoid making dubious history.Hard memories
Every time the Vikings go to Washington, the memory of the 17-10 loss in 1987 that cost them a chance to go to the Super Bowl comes up.
Jerry Burns, who was coach at that time, never will forget a dropped ball at the goal line that cost the team a chance to tie the score and send the game into overtime.
"I don't recall a lot [about the play] other than we ran a split-wide, we ran an option on the linebacker and the ball was thrown by, who was it? Wade Wilson. He threw it and we were behind 17-10 at the time," Burns recalled. "All I can say is that had [Darrin Nelson] caught the ball we most likely would have scored, but he didn't. He dropped the ball.
"I'm not being critical of him, a lot of guys drop the ball, those kinds of passes are always difficult to handle. It was very important at the time, and they beat us 17-10 and they went on to beat Denver in the Super Bowl. ...
"That was the year of the strike. We started off well and won a few games and then there was a strike and we had some games that were made up and we got beat, I think it was Green Bay and Chicago and Tampa [in consecutive weeks], but it was the best team that I coached."Put pressure on Brees
Looking back to last Sunday's loss to the Saints, when Drew Brees passed for 412 yards and five touchdowns, defensive end Brian Robison said that the Saints quarterback was spectacular even though the Vikings were chasing him constantly.
"I don't want to hear that 'not put pressure' -- we put pressure on him all day," Robison said. "He just made the plays that he needed to make to get them the victory. [Brees] is crafty, he knows how to get away from the rush. One step away. We were there all day, we just didn't make the plays we needed to make. We've got to play with the guys we've got, and we're not making plays. Right now that's why we're 2-12. The effort is there; we're just not playing good ball."Jottings
At 11-1, the Gophers men's basketball team is an impressive third in RPI among Big Ten teams. RPI in the Big Ten takes into account who you've beaten, who you've played and who your opponents have played. Wisconsin is first, followed by Ohio State. ... Mo Walker, the 6-10 Gophers forward who missed most of last season and all of this season because of a knee injury, has started to practice and might be ready for Big Ten opener.
Wally Ellenson, the Gophers recruit from Rice Lake, Wis., who will be a freshman next season, scored 14 and 30 points in his team's recent victories over New Richmond and River Falls. ... Charles Buggs, the other recruit signed by the Gophers this year, has sparked Hargrave Military Academy to an 18-0 record. He is averaging 17 points and 18 rebounds.
Bobby Bell, the former Gophers football great, won the Outland Trophy in 1962 for being the best college lineman in the country but won the award before the Football Writers Association of America gave out trophies to go with it. On Jan. 11 Bell will go to Omaha to be presented with the trophy.
CBSSports.com wrote extensively about South Dakota State junior guard Nate Wolters after the St. Cloud Tech product had 34 points, seven assists, five rebounds and no turnovers in a 92-73 victory at Washington on Sunday. The 6-4 Wolters, who was barely recruited by Division I schools at Apollo, is averaging 21.5 points, 6.0 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game for the Jackrabbits (10-4), and he reportedly caught the attention of NBA scouts with his performance in Seattle. "I haven't seen a performance like that since Jason Kidd was in the Pac-10," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said of Wolters, who scored 20 points but shot only 8-for-22 when South Dakota State lost to the Gophers on Nov. 14.
Former Twins relief pitcher Jose Mijares has signed a one-year contract with the Royals. Mijares spent four seasons with the Twins, and his ERA rose each season, going from 0.87 in 2008 to 2.34 in 2009 to 3.31 in 2010 and a career-high 4.59 in 2011.
Chad Rau didn't get into a game for the Wild before he was sent back to the minor leagues. Should Rau make his NHL debut with the team in 2011-12, the Eden Prairie native would become the sixth Minnesotan to play for the Wild this season, following Matt Cullen, Mike Lundin, Jeff Taffe, Nate Prosser and Jarod Palmer. Before this season, only eight players from Minnesota had ever played for the Wild, and only one of those, Darby Hendrickson, had lasted more than two seasons.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. firstname.lastname@example.org
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