Mark Craig's Sunday Insider: Time for Vikings to retame the Lions

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 29, 2012 - 11:58 PM

A key goal for Sunday's meeting is to avoid becoming the team with four consecutive losses against Detroit.

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Coach Leslie Frazier and quarterback Christian Ponder will try to end the Vikings’ 11-game losing streak in the NFC North and three-game skid against the Lions.

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

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Some of the things that have collapsed since the Vikings last won an NFC North game ...

• The Metrodome.

• Brad Childress' head coaching career.

• The window of opportunity for the team that went to the 2009 NFC Championship Game.

• Randy Moss' relationship with Tinucci's.

• Brett Favre on the field.

• Brett Favre in cyberspace.

And finally ...

• The Vikings' mastery of the Detroit Lions.

When the Vikings (2-1) walk into Ford Field against the Lions (1-2) on Sunday, it will have been 734 days since their last NFC North victory. It came against the Lions at Mall of America Field on Sept. 26, 2010.

At that point, the Vikings were 1-2 and thinking that perhaps the 0-2 start the year after their trip to the NFC title game was an aberration.

Boy, were they wrong.

What ensued was a two-year layover at the bottom of the division. At least the Vikings hope it was only two years.

Coach Leslie Frazier did a little whistling past the graveyard this week when asked repeatedly about his team's 0-for-11 skid inside the division. But you can't blame him. It's never good when the head coach freaks out and screams, "Holy cow! Can you believe I'm 0-8 against NFC North teams, including a rare 0-3 against the Lions?!!"

"We just need a win; any win," Frazier said. "We need to go to Detroit and get a win. Find a way to get a win by one point, two points, whatever. 2012 is a new year."

Frazier is coming off the finest moment of his brief head coaching career. His team played a crisp game while upsetting a heavily favored 49ers team that was considered the best of the league's best.

But Frazier also knows the shelf life for NFL moments like that are limited to a few hours following the game, if that.

What Frazier faces this week is the possibility of becoming only the second coach in team history to lose four consecutive games to Detroit. Granted, the Lions were bad for about half a century before stumbling upon Matthew Stafford and Jim Schwartz. But, still, it's never good for a Vikings coach to be associated with Norm Van Brocklin, who coached the expansion Vikings to five straight losses to Detroit from 1961 to '63.

Vikings coaches have been using the Lions to pad their win-loss records ever since. Hall of Famer Bud Grant went 26-8-1 against Detroit. Mike Tice went 8-0 against Detroit and 23-33 against the rest of the league.

Over the years, the Vikings have had winning streaks of 10, seven, six and five games against Detroit. And before the 2010 season finale, the Vikings had won 16 of 17 meetings with Detroit.

Many of the current Vikings have no idea about the history between the two teams or the Vikings' losing streak within the division. Running back Adrian Peterson, the face of the franchise, claims to be one of them.

Asked if the 0-for-11 skid was stuck in his head, Peterson looked surprised.

"Wow," he said. "To be honest with you, that hasn't been stuck in my head because I didn't know it was 11. But, wow, it's a good thing I didn't know. It's time to end that. It's time to get back on track and start playing Vikings football."

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