Vikings are masters of resiliency

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 1, 2013 - 8:58 AM

The team has prevailed despite facing adversity all year long, including Sunday.

 

Leslie Frazier never set out to be the NFL's foremost spokesman on resilience. But in the past month, the Vikings coach has found himself hosting a weekly infomercial detailing how his team channels its mental toughness toward success.

On Sunday, after the Vikings' completed an improbable four-game winning streak -- their longest since 2009 -- to invade the NFC playoffs, Frazier couldn't stop gushing about his team's ability to steer around misfortune without flinching.

Then, on Monday, on the final day of 2012, Frazier again commended his team's leadership and the resolve players showed all throughout a wild Sunday afternoon in which the Vikings were hit with at least a half-dozen opportunities to fold.

Instead, at every sign of trouble, they rose up and found ways to deliver a magical 37-34 victory over Green Bay.

Said Frazier: "That's a testament to the character of the players -- not looking over and saying, 'Man, why is so-and-so not doing his job?' or 'Why didn't that happen?' Instead, we were just focusing on the next play or the next series, and going out there and making a play."

Take, for example, Adrian Peterson's near-fumble midway through the third quarter, the ball squirting loose as he hit the ground after a 2-yard loss.

Luckily, Peterson's turnover was overturned by replay review. But a taunting penalty against right tackle Phil Loadholt pushed the Vikings into a second-and-27 predicament at the Green Bay 35.

Inescapable, right? Cut your losses and play for a field goal? Not when you have Peterson, who delivered on the next snap, bouncing a run outside for a breathtaking 28-yard gain.

If there was a play that aptly symbolized the 2012 season, that might have been it.

"There aren't a lot of teams what would even think you're going to get back to the line of scrimmage in that situation," Frazier said. "There we are looking at first-and-[goal]."

Averting disaster

That was far from the only sequence Sunday where the Vikings smoothly dodged disaster like James Bond.

There was also the charmed 17-yard reception by rookie Jarius Wright late in the first half. That came on a Christian Ponder throw better suited for a schoolyard game of "500." Packers safety Morgan Burnett blitzed and hit Ponder as he threw. Green Bay's A.J. Hawk and Casey Hayward appeared to have first dibs on an interception. Instead, after a collision, the ball spurted to Wright.

In the third quarter, a controversial touchdown by James Jones pulled Green Bay within 27-24. The Vikings could have felt wronged having Jones' fumble overturned by replay. And they might have grown despondent by having that review allowed in the first place after Packers coach Mike McCarthy mistakenly launched his challenge flag.

That emotional swing might have flustered a mentally fragile team.

After all, the Vikings punted on their next possession and the Packers then tied the score at 27 with a field goal.

But the Vikings quickly answered with their longest pass of the season -- 65 yards from Ponder to Wright, propelling a 79-yard touchdown drive.

And when Rodgers tied the score again at 34, the Vikings used the final 2:54 to march 61 yards for a playoffs-clinching field goal.

Said Frazier: "There were so many moments [Sunday] with all the ebbs and flows of the game, where you could have easily said, 'OK, they've got the momentum now. How are we going to get it back?' Or, 'Is it over with?' But our guys, they just kept focused on the task, and no matter what happened, they continued to go back out and play and fight and believe that one series wouldn't define that game."

'This team fights'

Peterson's extraordinary 2012 and the resolve needed to fuel it has been well documented. But consider all the other Vikings who have battled to aid this team's success.

On Sunday, the severely sprained AC joint in Brian Robison's right shoulder made it so the defensive end couldn't really feel his right arm. Yet Robison gutted through 40 snaps and delivered a pivotal sack and forced fumble in the second half.

"It was hard to breathe," Robison said. "But sometimes that's what you have to do if you want to make a playoff push."

Everson Griffen had three sacks himself, continuing a late-season surge less than three months after his mother unexpectedly died.

Just a few weeks ago, Wright had no way of knowing when his opportunity to contribute would come. He was inactive for the first nine games. Yet now he has 22 catches for 310 yards and all three of his receptions Sunday came in pivotal moments.

And Ponder? His miserable Week 13 effort in Green Bay cast serious doubt over his long-term potential. Even Ponder optimists woke up on the first Monday of December justified in questioning the young quarterback's skittishness, confidence and decision-making.

Then the 24-year-old quarterback settled down, captained the offense to four consecutive winning efforts, even delivering a fantastic outing in the season finale. He aided seven scoring drives, threw three TD passes and didn't turn the ball over.

The tales of resilience seem endless. Peterson and Jared Allen will head to the Pro Bowl later this month. And they'll be joined by a rookie kicker (Blair Walsh) who missed 14 field goals as a Georgia senior yet now enters the playoffs with 92 percent accuracy.

Also Pro Bowl bound: fullback Jerome Felton, who in his fifth season with his fourth team is finally getting a chance to showcase his skills.

No wonder Felton stood in a jubilant locker room Sunday night feeling so fulfilled.

"You don't understand," Felton said. "This is what I've been waiting for my whole career. ... This is the best team I've ever been around. Everybody's in this together. And this team fights. You can talk about executing, not executing, whatever.

"This team fights. And that, to me, is truly impressive."

  • NFC WILD CARD VIKINGS AT GREEN BAY 7 p.m. Saturday • Lambeau Field • TV: Ch. 11

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Team Irvin 7:15 PM
Team Carter
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 98 FINAL
Cleveland 108
Dallas 71 3rd Qtr 5:20
New Orleans 81
Indiana 66 3rd Qtr 4:47
Orlando 70
LA Clippers 74 3rd Qtr 4:23
Phoenix 67
Minnesota 61 3rd Qtr 5:36
Atlanta 75
Detroit 31 2nd Qtr 9:49
Toronto 33
Milwaukee 33 2nd Qtr 9:43
San Antonio 27
Boston 7:00 PM
Golden State
Washington 7:00 PM
Denver
Houston 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Team Toews 15 3rd Prd 10:34
Team Foligno 10
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
NJIT 72 FINAL
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Illinois State 53
Louisville 80 FINAL
Pittsburgh 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Albany 69
Niagara 64 FINAL
Iona 87
Notre Dame 43 2nd Half 16:17
NC State 50
Belmont 28 2nd Half
Tennessee St 30
Creighton 11 1st Half 3:22
Villanova 19
Northwestern 6:30 PM
Maryland
Washington 7:30 PM
Utah
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
UMBC 42
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
UCF 61 FINAL
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 68 FINAL
Washington St 73
Tulane 45 FINAL
South Florida 64
(14) Kentucky 83 FINAL
Missouri 69
(9) Oregon State 68 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 57
Vermont 63 FINAL
UMass Lowell 72
Iowa State 58 FINAL
(8) Texas 57
Southern Ill 61 FINAL
Wichita State 80
(15) Duke 74 FINAL
(12) North Carolina 67
Miami-Florida 55 FINAL
(4) Louisville 68
(21) Minnesota 61 FINAL
(25) Rutgers 66
California 60 2nd Half 6:16
UCLA 45
(11) Stanford 7:00 PM
USC
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who will win the Super Bowl?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close