One of the most agonizing days in this already tumultuous Vikings season reached a new level Thursday when the team announced Mike Zimmer would not coach the game vs. the Dallas Cowboys and that special teams coordinator Mike Priefer would serve in his place as interim head coach.

The 50-year-old U.S. Navy and football veteran was handed the red challenge flags with little notice.

General Manager Rick Spielman pegged Priefer instead of two others on the staff with head coaching experience.

Offensive line coach Tony Sparano and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur have the experience, but with Priefer in place, the Vikings were able to go into the game keeping the offensive and defensive staff focused on their sides.

“For this game, the best scenario is to have everybody do their roles, because Pat has spent all week getting the offense prepared and George Edwards has spent all week with the defense,” Spielman said.

Priefer is well-respected around Winter Park and kept his job after a team-imposed, three-game suspension in 2014 after an independent investigation into claims he made a homophobic remark during the 2012 season.

Zimmer, according to Spielman, believed “this was the best approach to take” for the Cowboys game.