Visanthe Shiancoe (Andy Blenkush/AP)
The Vikings were trying to avoid point fingers after Sunday’s 31-3 loss, but they didn’t mince words. From players coming off the field to those who had several minutes to digest it in the locker room after the game, frustration and venting were part of the process.
Vikings players have finally reached their boiling point. Frustration spilled out for public viewing on the sidelines during a 31-3 loss.
Everything seemed magnified with a blowout loss, with a 28-point loss. The salt stung a little more because the beating took place in the Metrodome and was to the Vikings’ top rivals, the Green Bay Packers.
There was as much sideline bickering as middle linebacker E.J. Henderson has seen in his eight seasons with the Vikings.
“Yeah, because it was the most disappointing game for all three phases – to give up 31 points as a defense, for the offense to only put up three points. I didn’t really key in on what the special teams did,” Henderson said. “I don’t think any area played up to their standards. I think everybody’s down right now.”
Following a 46-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Greg Jennings on the Packers’ first drive of the second half, defensive end Ray Edwards had seen enough. He confronted cornerback Asher Allen on the sidelines and Chris Cook shot back Edwards in a display that was captured by the FOX broadcast of the game.
“I was just going over there to light a fire under him,” Edwards said. “I didn’t really look too much into his eyes. I just wanted to have him make plays. That’s it. Everybody do your job.”
That last point was echoed by frustrated players after the game, but not at Asher Allen in particular. Before it even got to that point, rookie Chris Cook had been beaten badly several times – on receptions of 39 yards by James Jones and 47 yards to Jennings, as well as a 3-yard touchdown pass to Jones with five seconds left in the first half. Safety Husain Abdullah dropped an interception he should have had, receivers dropped passes, and Brett Favre missed open receivers on multiple occasions.
There was plenty of blame to go around.
“Sometimes some players have just got to step up and make some plays. They’ve got to step up and make some damn plays, that’s it,” tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said while walking off the field. “Sometimes you can play above the Xs and Os. Players, make some plays. Somebody make some plays. Make a play. Don’t wait for the next person to make a play, you make a play.
“We’re trying to get it right. We were on the sideline trying to get it right. That’s what it’s all about – trying to correct the (crap).”
Despite some of the confrontations being captured on TV, linebacker Chad Greenway wanted players to avoid publicly airing the team’s dirty laundry.
“That’s amongst ourselves. That’s nothing we need to be talking about. If guys are doing that, it’s not the right thing to do,” said Greenway, whose right eye was red and swollen after getting a finger in it. “The easy thing to do would be to point a finger. The easy thing to do is to quit. You won’t see if from me. I don’t think we’ll see it from anybody else on the defense.”
“… Team-wise, yeah, this probably the hardest thing we’ve had to deal with. It didn’t get any better today. We didn’t give ourselves a chance.”
Greenway said he felt there was effort from the whole team, but other players said they felt some teammates quit, although they weren’t naming names.
“If you don’t want to play for yourself, at least play for the guys around you and know that we’re not going to quit. At least I know that this front is not going to quit,” Kevin Williams said. “It’s just guys got frustrated. I don’t think anybody quit today. A lot of guys were still cheering everybody on, trying to pump guys up. We were stilling playing together.”
As the losses mount, especially against NFC North rivals and especially at home in what some players termed “embarrassing” fashion, sideline frustration was on display.
“Of course in a big game like that you’re going to have some arguments on the sidelines, but that’s the point we don’t want to get to. We don’t want to get to the finger-pointing because I don’t think anybody played the perfect game,” Henderson said.
Players had different ways of defining the level of frustration. Edwards, the one shown in a heated conversation with Asher Allen and Cook, said he wasn’t frustrated.
“There wasn’t no frustration. I was just talking to him. It was between teammates. If I ain’t doing my job, get on me. If we ain’t doing each other’s jobs, we talk,” Edwards said. “We take it up in front of each other in our room. We tell each other to step up and just play the game.”
Ben Leber, one of the more level-headed leaders on the team, admitted to more than a little frustration.
“Yeah, this is about as frustrating as it gets. None of those guys are looking at each other with an ill will. Guys are just trying to pick each other up,” he said. “This is an emotional game and sometimes things get a little heated on the sidelines. That’s going to happen.”
Greenway, Leber’s teammate in the linebacker corps, said there are no easy solutions as he began looking forward, taking a resilient approach.
“We need to keep fighting. There’s no magic dust. We need to keep fighting,” Greenway said. “Nobody in this league is going to give you anything. Clearly, we’re going to continue to find that out as we continue to roll, but we’re not going to become somebody’s whipping boy. We can’t become that. If we do, we’re not giving good enough effort.”
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.