‘They all hurt. They all hurt'

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Head coach Leslie Frazier watched the Vikings lose their seventh game of the season Sunday in Dallas.

ARLINGTON, Tex. — In the end, it's just another big, ugly "L,'' sitting there alongside the other six.

The Vikings took an unfamiliar route to a familiar destination Sunday. It's as if their GPS went screwy. They lost again, but this time they took the nailbiter footpath. They played about as well as they could but still came up short in an attempt to upset the Dallas Cowboys. Not that this defeat was any easier to swallow.

"They all hurt," Leslie Frazier said. "They all hurt."

Frazier may need prescription pain meds before this is all over. Remember that on Friday general manager Rick Spielman declared that Frazier had his full support for the rest of the season. I have not yet had a chance to send Les a sympathy card.

Sunday, we saw what is known on Wall Street as a "dead cat bounce," which is a short, shallow recovery during a period of great decline. Or a better analogy might be to compare it to a rigor mortis spasm. You know, like when a corpse's arm shoots straight up in the air.


Don't get suckered in and start singing "Happy Days are Here Again." All of the problems remain evident. All of the answers remain elusive.

Still, Vikings fans can take solace in the fact that their team remains undefeated in London. And that's something no other NFL team can say this season. Instead of recognizing members of the military during Thursday night's home game against the Washington Redskins, perhaps they should salute members of the Royal Air Force while a band plays "God Save the Queen."

For 60 minutes, the Cowboys, who appear to be decent but not exceptional, pushed forward while the Vikings pushed back. We kept waiting for the carriage to turn back into a pumpkin, the horses to turn back into mice and the Vikings to turn back into the Vikings. But they never did. Not in the traditional sense of getting their brains beat out.

It was interesting to see the Vikings as sort of undead. A blast from the past, like an Indian Summer day in the dead of winter. The game was so close for so long that no doubt many of the Purple faithful watching at home remained sober until well past halftime. That's saying something about the quality of entertainment emanating from Dallas.

"To have the lead at halftime and to play decent, it was disappointing to lose," Christian Ponder said.

But this was a stealth loss: a botched tackle here, a special teams miscue there, all combined with the occasional questionable coaching strategy. There's no telling what the Vikings will do on fourth down anymore. They might go for it, they might not, they might hold hands and sing a song. Whatever they decide, it usually doesn't work.

"It's a terrible feeling," Adrian Peterson said of being 1-7. "But we've got eight more. That's something to look forward to."

Uhhh, I don't know about that.


"There's a lot of frustration right now in this locker room," Brian Robison said. "Obviously, as a team we need to stick together. I felt like we played good defense the whole game. It is what it is."

It is a mess. There will be the temptation to believe the Vikings turned some sort of mental and physical corner Sunday. People who believe that will be setting themselves up for further disappointment.

The team is in its death throes: Too many fading veterans and too many mistake-prone youngsters of questionable talent. Yes, another couple of plays here and there and the Vikings might have won. But if Cowboys receivers had held onto a few more well-thrown passes, the Vikings might have been routed.

As we begin the second half, the question is whether the whole unraveling will become toxic. If it does, it could speed up the necessary housecleaning. So far, the Vikings have come across as a happy band of losers, always vowing to do better and to keep trying.

A few cracks are appearing, however. Some of the defensive players seemed a bit perturbed by the conservative play calls — a three-man pass rush, for example — on the Cowboys' game-winning drive.

"We've got to find a way to close out games, as players and coaches,'' Robison noted. "We did a good job of holding them to field goals, getting them in some third and longs, getting off the field when we needed to. And then on that last drive, things happened that allowed them to score. And we ended up on the wrong end again."

We'll find out Thursday if there really has been a reanimation or (more likely) if the dead cat sticks to the floor.

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