Sunday, September 22, 2013
Locker Room Buzz: Minnesota Vikings
By Ben Goessling
MINNEAPOLIS -- Observed in the locker room following the Minnesota Vikings' 31-27 loss to the Cleveland Browns:
Challenge controversy: The Vikings -- who felt like they were victimized against Green Bay in the NFL's last incident involving an automatically reviewable play -- might have gotten burned by a misinterpretation of the league's new rule on Sunday. Coach Leslie Frazier challenged Travis Benjamin's fumbled punt near the end of the second quarter, mistakenly arguing that the Vikings had returned the loose ball for a touchdown, but was penalized 15 yards for challenging the play, which was set for a booth review since it involved a change of possession. By rule, the Vikings could not advance the fumbled punt, but referee Bill Leavy admitted after the game that he should have charged the Vikings a timeout, not 15 yards. That pushed the Vikings from the Browns' 26-yard line to their 41, and the Vikings wound up with a Blair Walsh field goal.
'Terrible' two-minute drill: For the second time in two weeks, the Vikings gave up a last-minute touchdown on their way to a loss. On Sunday, that came against third-string Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer, who hit tight end Jordan Cameron for a touchdown with just under a minute to play. The Vikings put pressure on Hoyer in the second half with some well-timed blitzes, but they weren't able to get to him on the final drive. "Our two-minute drill is actually terrible right now and it cost us, in my opinion, three games," defensive end Jared Allen said. The Vikings gave up a touchdown with 10 seconds left in the first half in Week 1 against Detroit, too, and allowed the Lions to head into halftime down by a point instead of trailing by eight.
Frazier backs Ponder, for now: Frazier said Christian Ponder is "still our starting quarterback," but the coach's defenses of Ponder -- who went 10-for-20 for 63 yards and was sacked three times in the second half -- were more lukewarm than usual. "I've got to go back and look at it, see what's creating the inconsistency, why we're not executing as well as we need to in certain situations," Frazier said. "We'll evaluate it, and make the decision that you have to make. But as we speak, I don't see [a quarterback change] happening."