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.

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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.


Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 3 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: T. Hudson 2
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Dallas 117 FINAL
Orlando 92
New York 80 FINAL
Toronto 83
San Antonio 87 FINAL
Houston 96
Miami 104 FINAL
Memphis 98
Minnesota 113 FINAL
Chicago 112
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Utah 100
Sacramento 93 FINAL
LA Lakers 92
Denver 112 FINAL
Golden State 119
Portland 99 FINAL
LA Clippers 89
Dallas 3 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Tampa Bay 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Colorado 7
Carolina 3 FINAL
Edmonton 6
Columbus 1 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 59 FINAL
California 41
North Texas 11:00 AM
UAB 11:00 AM
Rutgers 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 11:00 AM
Texas 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 11:00 AM
Memphis 11:00 AM
North Carolina 11:30 AM
San Jose St 12:00 PM
Northern Ill 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 1:00 PM
Akron 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 1:00 PM
Ohio U 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 1:30 PM
Oregon State 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech 2:30 PM
(22) West Virginia 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 2:30 PM
Vanderbilt 3:00 PM
Old Dominion 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 4:00 PM
(15) Arizona 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 6:30 PM
So Carolina 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 9:45 PM
Nevada 10:59 PM
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Houston 1 FINAL
Chicago 2
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 6:00 PM
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
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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 Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon




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