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Continued: Vikings' European vacation comes with must-win scenario

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Last update: September 28, 2013 - 11:38 PM

“We bonded enough in training camp,” defensive end Jared Allen said. “I really love my teammates, but I really enjoy going home and being with my wife and daughter and being away from people. It’s not high school and it’s not college. We get paid to win football games and that’s the bottom line. So we can all bond later, I guess.”

Sense of urgency

Greenway acknowledged that all the talk about team bonding likely would not be a “question for the week” if the defense hadn’t allowed game-winning touchdowns on the final drive the past two games. Allen poured more cold water on a reporter’s optimistic tone regarding those narrow loses.

“There are no moral victories in football, no attaboys, great job, we almost got them,” he said. “That’s for Pop Warner. We’re an 0-3 football team. That’s what we are.”

An 0-3 team with a new quarterback. Conspiracy theories this week over the timing and severity of Ponder’s injury were put to rest — or at least tempered — with news that he suffered a fractured rib in the second quarter against the Browns.

Left unknown is whether he’ll get his job back. That decision likely will be based on how Cassel performs in relief. If he plays well and the Vikings win, Cassel presumably will remain the starter.

“I’m hoping that he shines,” Frazier said. “I don’t foresee a quarterback controversy. But we want him to play lights out. We want him to have the best game of his NFL career on Sunday.”

The Vikings need that and more. As poorly as Ponder has performed, he’s not solely to blame for the 0-3 start.

The Vikings rank near the bottom of the NFL in pass defense, total defense and scoring defense. Special-teams miscues cost them dearly in the losses to Chicago and Cleveland. Despite all that’s gone wrong, the Vikings put themselves in position to win the past two weeks, but they wilted at the worst possible time.

“To lose them in the style that we’ve lost them, at the end of the games, that’s the thing that really can be frustrating,” General Manager Rick Spielman said in a rare in-season interview this week. “I think we have the right players to get those situations corrected. And there’s a sense of urgency.”

Wide receiver Jerome Simpson put it even more succinctly.

“It’s kind of hard going to the playoffs at 0-4,” he said.

That also would make a long flight home feel even longer.





 

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