Hartman: Last-second losses spoil Vikings' season

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 9, 2013 - 6:47 AM

The Vikings lost another heartbreaker Sunday when the defense again allowed an opposing offense to score at will late in the ballgame.

The Baltimore Ravens scored on a pass with four seconds to play after Leslie Frazier’s squad had taken the lead on a pass to rookie Cordarelle Patterson with 31 seconds to play.

It’s amazing to think that instead of being 3-9-1 the Vikings could be in a playoff position had they not lost four games in the final seconds.

They lost 31-30 to the Bears in Week 2 on a last-second touchdown pass. They then lost 31-27 to Cleveland in Week 3 on a last-minute pass to tight end Jordan Cameron. Tony Romo threw a touchdown with 35 seconds left in the Vikings’ Week 9 loss to Dallas.

That means the Vikings lost four games, including Baltimore, by a combined 12 points. If they had won those four games — and they had the lead late in the game in each instance — the team would be 7-5-1 and in first place in the NFC North.

I hope that Frazier keeps his job. I’m not sure that the owners of the team want the record to show three fired coaches (Mike Tice, Brad Childress and possibly Frazier) in the nine years they have owned the team.

There are people involved in management who believe the Vikings should have a much better record with the personnel on hand.

However, don’t forget that this same staff coached the team to a 10-6 record last year and it made the playoffs. Plus, the Vikings are 2-2-1 in their past five games when the team could have easily quit on them.

I am pretty sure all of the assistant coaches’ contracts expire at the end of this season. So my guess is that Frazier will return unless a top-notch coach is available, but there will be some radical changes in the defensive staff.

Patterson a find

While the last-second losses are a negative, you have to credit General Manager Rick Spielman and company for the trade of Percy Harvin to Seattle. That allowed them to have the chance to have three first-round draft picks and select receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, and Sharrif Floyd. The trade also included a late pick who ended up being Travis Bond, an offensive lineman who was signed by the Panthers off the Vikings practice squad earlier this year. They also will get a mid-round pick in next year’s draft from Seattle.

Meanwhile, Harvin has been injured for all but one game for the Seahawks and has one catch for 17 yards and one kickoff return for 58 yards, and questions remain about his health.

On the basis of what Patterson has done recently, he could be the equal of Harvin and be a healthier version of him. Not to mention that Rhodes has proven that he can be an outstanding cornerback and the team still has a chance to get another good player in next year’s draft, although Seattle will finish high in the standings.

Patterson had easily the best game of his young career Sunday, catching five passes for 141 yards and a touchdown, a 79-yard score late in the fourth quarter that temporarily gave the Vikings the lead.

Patterson is also the only player in the NFL with two kickoff returns for a touchdown this year.

Gophers are favorites

There’s no reason the Gophers football team shouldn’t be able to handle a mediocre Syracuse team in the Texas Bowl.

The Orange faced two Big Ten opponents at the start of the year and lost both games. Penn State beat Syracuse 23-17 and Northwestern destroyed it 48-27. The Gophers beat both of those squads.

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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pm
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pm
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pm
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
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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