Found December 18, 2011 on Fox Sports North:
Minnesota-vikings
MINNEAPOLIS After perhaps the most disappointing loss of the season, Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier took to the podium and was taking the blame for Sunday's 42-20 loss to the New Orleans Saints.The matchups certainly didn't favor Minnesota, now 2-12. The Vikings' depleted secondary was going against New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, who is on pace to set an NFL passing yardage record this year. Frazier seemed resigned to the inevitable, that Minnesota was undermanned against the Saints (11-3), but he squarely put Sunday's loss on his shoulders."I don't think I did a good job of getting my guys prepared for what they were going to face today," Frazier said. "Just didn't go a good job of getting them in a position where they could make certain plays and execute in certain situations like we needed to."How did the Vikings grade out on Sunday?Running offense: CMinnesota had success at times running the ball, but the large deficit took the running game out of the game plan. In his first game in four weeks, Adrian Peterson ran the ball 10 times for 60 yards, including a 39-yarder, but he was disappointed with getting just 10 carries. Christian Ponder showed little ill effects from his hip pointer injury, running three times for 34 yards. For a team that relies on running the ball, just having 18 total rushes in the game signifies how out-of-hand Sunday's game had become.Passing offense: D-The Vikings two touchdowns came by way of passes, but neither pass even crossed the line of scrimmage. Running back Toby Gerhart took a shovel pass 10 yards for a touchdown and added a 16-yard touchdown on a screen pass. Those two plays helped salvage quarterback Christian Ponder's day. Ponder was 4 for 13 passing for 18 yards after three quarters and finished 14 for 31 for 120 yards. He was also sacked four times. When given a little bit of time, Ponder overthrew several receivers. New Orleans also took receiver Percy Harvin out of the game. Harvin was targeted seven times, catching just three passes for eight yards.Run defense: DWhile the Saints didn't need to run the ball, they were effective when they did. With the game in hand, New Orleans was able to grind the clock in the fourth quarter with the running game. Chris Ivory finished with 18 carries for 74 yards. Pierre Thomas added eight carries for 44 yards and a touchdown and Darren Sproles had eight carries for 33 yards. In all, New Orleans ran for 161 yards and averaged 4.2 yards per carry.Pass defense: FThe biggest mismatch of the game came here. Brees is having one of the best seasons by a quarterback in NFL history and the Vikings have dealt with injuries, absences and just plain ineptitude in the secondary all season. Brees was 20 for 24 passing for 247 yards and three touchdowns at halftime as New Orleans built a 21-13 lead and finished 32 for 40 for 412 yards and five touchdowns before giving way to backup Chase Daniel in the fourth quarter. Four different receivers caught touchdowns for the Saints and were seemingly open everywhere Brees looked. With two games left, Brees is now just 305 yards away from Dan Marino's single-season record of 5,084 passing yards. Brees has 37 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions this season. Minnesota wasn't able to record a sack as defensive end Jared Allen was held without a sack for just the third game this season. The Vikings have also gone nine straight games without an interception on defense, the most consecutive games by any team since the NFL merger in 1970.Special teams: BLittle of note happened on special teams. Harvin was back for the majority of kickoffs this game, following through on the speculation he would be used more to provide a spark, but Harvin was negated by long, directional kicks from Saints kicker John Kasay. Harvin had one return for 28 yards. The coverage units had another breakdown, giving up a 24-yard punt return to Sproles, but mostly held their ground. Punter Chris Kluwe had a 48.1 yard average on seven punts and kicker Ryan Longwell had 44- and 49-yard field goals.Overall: FNot only were the Vikings undermanned against the talented Saints, but Frazier also said the team wasn't prepared properly. Now with two games remaining, these Vikings would have to win both to avoid matching or setting the franchise mark for most losses in a season. Minnesota is a vastly different team than when it faced New Orleans in the NFC Championship game 23 months ago. The talent gap between the two teams was apparent Sunday. The Vikings, and specifically Ponder, need to start showing some improvement to give any hope for the franchise heading into next season.
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