By Joseph Gunther
Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier believes the way his team defeated the Chicago Bears Sunday at Mall of America Field is the way they need to play to reach their ultimate goal.
The Vikings built an early lead on the legs of Adrian Peterson and the hands of its defense, even though its passing game continued to struggle.
“Ideally for us, this is how we want to win games,” Frazier said. “We want to be able to run the ball effectively, throw the ball with play-action, bootlegs. Every now and then when somebody is in an eight or nine-man front take a shot over the top like with (Devin) Aromashodu (on Sunday) – we were just off a little bit – and then play solid defense and dominate on special teams.
“That formula, you can win championships with.”
Frazier makes that comment despite the fact that at least eight of the last 10 Super Bowl winners have been stronger passing offenses than running.
“I don’t see us being that type of team,” Frazier said. “That’s not the team that we went to training camp saying that we wanted to be. We want to be able to run the ball effectively, stop the run, create turnovers, play tough hard-nosed defense and win in every phase on special teams. (Sunday) we saw kind of what we’ve talked about.”
Christian Ponder’s struggles have been well documented, but a good drive – even though it didn’t yield points – helped the Vikings win the game.
“We were in a backed-up situation,” Frazier said. “I think we got the ball out to (the Bears 41) and we ended up punting, but it was a major part of our being able to win that game, taking time off the clock, converting some key third downs at the quarterback position, and then getting them backed up to make them drive the length of the field and get back in the game.
“That efficient football, you can win with it if you don’t turn the ball over and what he did in the fourth quarter was a major part of our success.”
Ponder has managed games and moments very well, but has also cost the team at least one game this season.
The NFL fined punter Chris Kluwe $5,250 for a uniform violation. The seventh-year punt placed athletic tape over the patch worn on their jersey Sunday that celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Upon the tape, he wrote “Vote Ray Guy” in reference to the game’s greatest punter’s omission from the hall.
Kluwe knew a fine was coming after game and he didn’t care.
“I’m going to get fined,” he said. “For me, it’s hard to support a Hall of Fame that doesn’t recognize punters.”
Cook nearing return
Chris Cook remains on track to return from a broken arm in Week 16 at the Houston Texans.
Cook started the first eight games of the season before suffering the injury. His first assignment back appears to be one of the league’s best receivers, Andre Johnson. He feels he will be ready when the time comes.
“It’s not like I took every day off and I wasn’t doing football-oriented stuff,” he said. “But game speed and practice speed and just doing movements is a little different. Knocking a little game-rust off, it may happen in the first few plays of the game. But I feel like I’ve been doing this for so long it’s like second nature now.”
He does expect to wear a light weight cast of some kind when he returns.
Kropog elevated to keep him
The Vikings promoted offensive lineman Troy Kropog from the practice squad to the 53-man roster late last week after Percy Harvin was placed on injured reserve.
Frazier hinted that had the team not evelated the third-year veteran another team would have signed him to their active roster.
“He’s done a good job in practice and that position, when you talk about the offensive line, it’s very tough to find guys sometimes,” Frazier said. “The fact that he’s played so well and done so well in practice, we didn’t want to lose him. So it was a chance for us to elevate him. He’s earned it through the way he’s worked.”
Frazier was asked if another team wanted to sign Kropog and his response was: “He’s a Minnesota Viking.”
Kropog was inactive in Sunday’s win.
Brown fills practice squad
When Kropog was promoted, a spot opened up on the practice squad. Monday the team filled that spot with former Minnesota State University, Mankato wide receiver LaMark Brown.
Brown is listed as a tight end on the Vikings roster, but the 6-foot-3-inch, 225-pound undrafted rookie played mostly at wide receiver in college (three years at Kansas State University and one for the Mavericks). The 23-year-old has had stints on the Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squads.
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Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. His work can be found on Examiner.com.