Upon Further Review: Vikings Week 9

November, 4, 2013
11/04/13
9:00
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A review of four hot issues following the Minnesota Vikings' 27-23 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday:

[+] EnlargeChristian Ponder
Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsVikings quarterback Christian Ponder is tackled on a scramble by Cowboys cornerback B.W. Webb in the first quarter at AT&T Stadium.
Last-minute meltdown -- again: For the third time this season, the Vikings gave up a touchdown on a two-minute drill, and unlike in the first two games, which both occurred in September, players were willing to voice their frustrations with what went wrong. Both defensive end Brian Robison and defensive tackle Kevin Williams questioned the decision to rush three linemen for most of the last drive, giving Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo time to pick apart the team's depleted secondary. It will be interesting to hear what coach Leslie Frazier has to say about his players' comments today; Frazier has thrived on building consensus on his teams, but at 1-7, his veterans' criticisms are getting harder to ignore.

Peterson shines in Lone Star state: Adrian Peterson grew up just less than two hours from Dallas, and he bought tickets for 62 friends and family members on Sunday. Those who came to watch the reigning NFL MVP got a good show; Peterson ran for 140 yards on 25 carries, benefiting from a game plan that got him the ball after three straight weeks in which he failed to log more than 13 carries. Peterson also was as tough for the Cowboys to bring down as he was in his best moments last year; he averaged 8.5 yards per carry against eight-man fronts, which is easily his highest total this season. For as much as it's seemed like he's struggled, Peterson has 711 yards through eight games, which is only 64 yards behind where he was at this time last year -- although it should be mentioned that Peterson ran for 1,353 yards in the second half of the season last year.

Loadholt injured: The Vikings' five starting offensive linemen -- Matt Kalil, Charlie Johnson, John Sullivan Brandon Fusco and Phil Loadholt -- have started 25 straight games together, dating back to the first week of the 2012 season. That streak could be in jeopardy after Loadholt suffered a concussion during the second quarter of Sunday's game. And with the Vikings' next game on Thursday, it seems unlikely Loadholt will be able to return in time. J'Marcus Webb, Loadholt's replacement, gave up a sack in the end zone on the team's first play of the second half on Sunday, and the Cowboys' Nick Hayden recovered Christian Ponder's fumble for a touchdown. If Webb, who signed with the Vikings after the Chicago Bears cut him in August, can't protect Ponder on Thursday against the Washington Redskins, the Vikings could be in for more headaches.

Ponder back in the saddle: The quarterback appears likely to start again on Thursday after going 25-of-37 for 236 yards, a touchdown and an interception on Sunday; with a short week after a decent performance from Ponder, the Vikings probably won't turn to Josh Freeman yet. But it's worth asking at this point when, or if, the team will turn things over to Freeman. The Vikings have a 10-day break after Thursday's game, but their next two games are against two division leaders in two tough venues -- Seattle and Green Bay. If the Vikings want to see Freeman before December, they might have to bite the bullet and play him in a difficult environment.

Ben Goessling

ESPN Minnesota Vikings reporter

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