Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.

Email Patrick.

These Vikings haven't quit playing for Frazier

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: December 2, 2013 - 11:00 AM

There's a strong conviction in the Twin Cities media and with the sporting public that Leslie Frazier will be fired as the Vikings coach at the end of this season. I'm not arguing with that assumption, but the bill of charges against Frazier cannot include the claim that his players have quit on him.

Tracy Claeys, the Gophers' interim coach, put it eloquently after the upset of Nebraska when he said his players had "fought their balls off.'' What made this so colorful was that Claeys blurted this praise in the immediate on-field interview for ESPN's telecast.

Claeys' FTBO certainly was an upgrade on Twins manager Ron Gardenhire's BHTO (Battled His Tail Off) that has been a trademark of his postgame interviews in good times and in bad.

And the FTBO tribute could be properly used today by Frazier toward his athletes, if he was the type of guy to blurt such candid thoughts in public.

The Vikings took the 41-20 whipping in Seattle on Nov. 17 to fall to 2-8. It couldn't have been heartening to make the flight back from the West Coast and then find out the plan was to continue to go with Christian Ponder at quarterback -- even after his dreadful interceptions led to a benching vs. the Seahawks.

The Vikings responded by showing up in Lambeau Field with numerous second-teamers, battling through five quarters and leaving with a 26-26 tie.

Yes, it was with a couple quarterback imposters -- Scott Tolzein and Matt Flynn -- as alternatives to the great Aaron Rodgers for the Packers. Yes, they managed to let a 23-7 lead early in the fourth quarter get away. Yes, they settled for field goals at the end of drives that looked like as if game-clinching touchdowns were written all over them.

This wasn't where the FTBO came in. It was most evident in turning away the Packers at the goal line early in overtime. It was in not conceding over a full 75 minutes that there nothing left to play for this flop of a season.

Same thing on Sunday, when the desperate Chicago Bears arrived in the Metrodome.

Much went wrong in the third quarter. Ashton Jeffery beat Chris Cook for 80 yards to put the Bears ahead 13-7 in the first minute of the half. Jeffery then made a catch for the ages over Cook for a 46-yard touchdown to give the Bears a 20-10 lead with 5:15 left in the third.

Cook was ejected on an asinine overreaction by the official on the scene. Cook made light contact in protesting the call to award the touchdown, rather than to get Jeffery for offensive pass interference.

The official was ecstatic to fire dramatically his flag.

What a chump.

Bashing of Cook is in vogue these days -- for good reason -- but this was simply more of the same from the flag-happy morons in referee Carl Cheffers' crew.

The announcers, Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick, paid tribute to the fine work of Cheffers and company late in regulation. Yeah, boys, they were wonderful, if you like the cheapest collection of calls imaginable at important moments.

Ponder was close to the officials in haplessness before leaving with a concussion at the end of the first half. Matt Cassel, easily the best of three quarterbacks to see the field for the Vikings this season, came in.

Cassel managed to mashal a 89-yard drive to cut the lead to 20-17 midway in the fourth quarter.

The Bears had a chance to put it away when they were second-and-1 at Vikings' 41 with under 4 minutes left. They ran Matt Forte up the gut for nothing. They did the same on third down, rather than a quick throw to Brandon Marshall or Jeffery.

And then rookie NFL head coach Marc Trestman ordered a punt.

Forget his decision in overtime to not try to move Robbie Gould closer than 47 yards for a winning field goal. Not using all four downs to get that one yard at the Vikings' 41 was Trestman's No. 1 blunder of an afternoon when he had several.

I'm guessing that favorable impression Trestman offered to Bears' fans with a 3-0 start has waned considerably through what's now six losses in the past nine games.

Frazier was much sharper in the final minutes than Trestman. As the boys in the TV booth debated what he should do on fourth-and-11 from their 8, with 1:55 (and two timeouts) left, Frazier made the only feasible decision: Go for it.

Cassel hit Jerome Simpson for 20 yards, and the Vikings went from there to a game-tying field goal.

Frazier's bunch FTBOd to get a 20-20 tie, and did so through 13:17 of more overtime, before Walsh won it, 23-20, with a 34-yard field goal.

The Vikings are 1-0-1 after 148 minutes and 17 seconds of football against their two largest rivals, the Packers and the Bears, these past two Sundays.

A coherent case probably can be made for Frazier to be fired. Part of it can't be that his athletes have quit. As the stretch run of a lost season arrived, the bulk of Frazier's players have showed a willingness to fight their privates off.


Fla Southern 2 FINAL
Detroit 12
Miami 7
Toronto 114 FINAL
Philadelphia 103
Golden State 108 FINAL
Brooklyn 110
Phoenix 98 FINAL
Miami 115
LA Clippers 110 FINAL
Minnesota 105
New Orleans 93 FINAL
Dallas 102
Nashville 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Carolina 2 FINAL
Chicago 5
Montreal 0 FINAL
San Jose 4
Virginia 59 FINAL
Syracuse 47
Baylor 59 FINAL
Texas 61
SE Louisiana 79 FINAL
Northwestern St 92
Central Arkansas 49 FINAL
Sam Houston St 76
Norfolk State 59 FINAL
Howard 61
Bethune-Cookman 50 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 75 FINAL
Delaware State 85
Lamar 69 FINAL
McNeese State 70
Nicholls 89 FINAL
New Orleans 79
Incarnate Word 62 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 83
NC Central 62 FINAL
Savannah State 49
Texas Southern 77 FINAL
Alabama A&M 75
Prairie View 67 FINAL
Alabama State 65
Oklahoma 70 FINAL
Iowa State 77
Grambling St 62 FINAL
Miss Valley St 66
Boston College 66 FINAL
Virginia Tech 59
Jackson State 62 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 64
Bethune-Cookman 55 FINAL
NC A&T 58
Hampton 78 FINAL
Delaware State 63
Norfolk State 63 FINAL
Howard 60
NC Central 54 FINAL
Savannah State 65
Texas Southern 83 FINAL
Alabama A&M 46
Prairie View 42 FINAL
Alabama State 60
Jackson State 78 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 74
Grambling 56 FINAL
Miss Valley St 61
Tulsa 71 FINAL
Cincinnati 58
(1) Connecticut 88 FINAL
South Florida 65
East Carolina 67
Central Conn St 53 FINAL
Bryant 55
Wagner 66 FINAL
Robert Morris 60
Sacred Heart 75 FINAL
Fairleigh Dickinson 84
St Francis-NY 73 FINAL
Long Island 49
Mount St Marys 87 FINAL
St Francis-PA 90
Temple 56 FINAL
Houston 45
Texas Tech 65 FINAL
(6) Baylor 75
Iowa State 64 FINAL
Kansas 68
Memphis 53
Oklahoma 66 FINAL
Oklahoma St 56
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters



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




question of the day

Poll: With Adrian Peterson's suspension overturned, what should the Vikings do?

Weekly Question