If you know our sports watching history, you know we do not give up on teams quickly. We spent the last half of the 1980s watching virtually every televised Atlanta Braves game on TBS. Those were some truly awful teams, but it only made the victories sweeter. And when it comes to watching football on Sundays, we are almost always dialed in for three hours of the Vikings, no matter how bad it gets.


But not this week.

We made a deal with our younger brother, Ben, who is a baseball card fanatic much like we were at his age (almost 12). We were visiting Grand Forks, where the Vikings are typically the local game shown. But he was antsy to go to a baseball card shop, so we told him that if the game got out of hand we would leave before it was over and go look at cards.

His patience, of course, is not the same as ours. As the Saints incrementally boosted their lead, Ben kept asking if we could leave. "Not yet ... it's still not of hand," we said, lying to both of us, as it was clear from the start that the Vikings were so terribly outclassed. But by the time New Orleans went up by three touchdowns in the second half, we no longer had the will to fend off his youthful energy nor the desire to watch another purple shellacking.

Ben, who doesn't share our gluttony for punishment and claims to like the Packers right now -- a disturbing fact that we will be working feverishly to erase, no doubt -- assured us the rest of the game would be on at the card shop. He was, in fact, correct. But it did not make us feel any better. In fact, not even the Packers' stunning first loss of the season should give a Vikings fan much glee right now.

As Souhan notes, Christian Ponder and Leslie Frazier are hardly instilling confidence down the stretch. As such, the Vikings are failing at the one thing they could not afford to fail at this season: They are not getting a clear picture of their direction in 2012. It's one thing to lose with a purpose; it's another to be so bad this late in the year that it looks like you're losing on purpose.

Patience is a virtue, but we can't ever remember the Vikings testing it quite like this.