It was the right call. I said that when Leslie Frazier made the decision. Adrian Peterson even agreed with the call after the game.
It was far from a no-brainer decision. But it was the right call.
Still, it's perfectly clear that Frazier's decision to punt with 2:37 left Sunday was a decision that had heavy opposition from fans. The Vikings trailed Green Bay 33-27 and faced a third-and-10 from their own 36. They needed a touchdown to win.
Choice A: Go for it. Try to let rookie quarterback Christian Ponder make a play. And if you're lucky, you continue a drive that had the potential to be a game-winner. The worst-case scenario? You give the Packers the ball back at the 36 and try to stop them from there.
Choice B, the one Frazier opted for: Punt it away. With all three timeouts left and the 2-minute warning on your side as well, if your defense can stop the run, you're getting the ball back with plenty of time left.
Frazier's explanation: "I thought with the timeouts we had plus the 2-minute warning, if we punted the ball, wherever the ball ended up at, if we play good defense and the way our defense was doing a good job of getting us the ball back, I thought we had a chance to get it back for our offense. Unfortunately that didn't happen."
A sampling of the Twitters responses I received right after the Vikings punted and I expressed agreement with Frazier's call:
@eboo1: not when they have rodgers
@DKarus: wrong. They are 1-5. D has not made a stop since 77. Why not give the kid a chance with the crowd behind him.
@platour68: Couldn't disagree more, Dan. You don't give Rodgers the ball back and hope you stop him 3-and-out.
Facing Rodgers wasn't a major issue at that point in the game. The Packers were almost certainly going to run the ball to milk clock -- which they did. And up to that point, the Vikings had done an OK job of stopping the run, allowing 60 yards on 19 attempts. But then James Starks played the role of Mariano Rivera for Green Bay. He totaled 55 yards on six attempts on the final series and that was that. The clock ran out. The Vikings never got the ball back.
More Twitter discontent:
@joeballdunham: thats why you dont punt. I wouldve bet house they wouldnt get ball back.
@bearded_1der: good thing they made "absolutely the right call". Thank goodness you arent in coaching
Needless to say, the decision to punt will be talked about by fans for long stretches of Monday. But Frazier used sensible logic in that situation, even if the end-result wasn't fruitful.