Vikings War Cry

November 28, 2012 7:23 AM

Road Woes

Frazier laments.jpg
The Soldier Field scoreboard read Chicago Bears 28, Minnesota Vikings 10, at game's end on Sunday. Another Vikings/Bears clash in Chicago, another Vikings loss.

That has been a broken record for all too often over the past decade plus. More disturbing, that road-loss part of the equation has been tagged on the Vikings far too often and for far too long.

On Sunday, the Vikings proceeded to largely go through the motions during the first half and then - with the game pretty much out of reach by halftime - put up a respectable effort in the second half. Whether it would have been the other way around does not matter, what the Vikings have done so rarely in recent seasons, is put up a respectable effort in both halves of a road football game.

Certainly Minnesota has been guilty of sleepwalking on the road during Head Coach Leslie Frazier's tenure, but this condition pre-existed his arrival. Under previous head coaches Mike Tice and Brad Childress, the Vikings never finished a season over .500 on the road, while Tice managed one 4-4 season and Childress two 4-4 seasons. The year Frazier took over head coaching duties, Childress was 1-4 on the road during his portion of 2010.

Frazier won two road victories when he was interim head coach in 2010, two road victories last year and only one road victory out of five so far this year. If the Vikings are going to make the playoffs this year, Frazier is going to need at least his annual mark of two road wins.

Certainly while it is no secret that home football teams win more often than road teams, be it college or the NFL, there is absolutely no excuse for professional football players playing with a lack of effort and intensity regardless of which stadium they are playing in. On Sunday, the Vikings' very first snap resulted in unblocked Bears' pass rushers dumping Christian Ponder for a major loss. That only signalled the beginning of a half that featured a drive-ending dropped pass, a fumbled football, a wildly off-target pass that was intercepted, and a lifeless pass rush from a Vikings' front four going up against a patch-work offensive line that had not been able to protect its quarterback against anyone over the past month.

If the Vikings were to put forth an honest effort on the road, they would be capable of beating at least one of the two remaining premier teams that they will face. Winning at Green Bay or Houston would go a long way towards gaining a playoff spot. Of course if the Vikings should lose at Saint Louis, even a road upset win would be negated.

As for playing at home, the Vikings have usually displayed the proper sense of purpose and intensity this season, and their five wins in six games are a testament to that fact. To make the playoffs, the same will be paramount when they host the Bears and Packers next month, because the Vikings must come away with victories on their home turf.

With the Packers next up this Sunday, the Vikings visit Lambeau Field where they won the most important meeting ever played between the two fierce rivals. The 2004 season featured the only post-season contest this storied rivalry has ever produced. The result was a sound 31-17 beating by a very sharp and inspired Vikings team that day.

Yes, there was a time when the Vikings were capable of crisp and composed play on the road, you know, the type of effort a professional team is supposed to be capable of. It has been a long time since the Vikings have played that way as a visitor. It sure would be nice to see again; starting this Sunday.

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