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Rick Lubbers: Halftime? More like naptime for Vikes

So, how exactly are the Minnesota Vikings spending their halftimes? Are they resting comfortably in custom-made Barcaloungers, catching a few zzz's before the referees fetch them for the second half? Are they busy updating their Facebook statuses...

Rick Lubbers
Contact News Tribune sports editor Rick Lubbers at rlubbers@duluthnews.com or (218) 723-5317.

So, how exactly are the Minnesota Vikings spending their halftimes?

Are they resting comfortably in custom-made Barcaloungers, catching a few zzz's before the referees fetch them for the second half?

Are they busy updating their Facebook statuses to "Coasting toward a victory"?

Are they checking their fantasy football stats?

Are they doing anything remotely football-related?

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Whatever they're doing in the locker room clearly isn't working. Three times this season they have ended the half with double-digit leads and three times they have ended the game losers.

Once is pardonable, twice is a bad trend, thrice is unforgivable.

Sunday's episode of "Second-Half Follies" was particularly egregious. While building a 20-0 advantage at home against a division opponent, the Vikings tossed around Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford like a rag doll and gobbled up large chunks of yardage on offense.

But they played the second half as though they consumed liberal amounts of celebration champagne in the locker room. Stafford did his best Peyton Manning impersonation and dissected the Minnesota defensive backfield like a surgeon wielding a laser knife. It was as if the Lions stepped into a phone booth during halftime instead of a locker room.

They turned a 20-0 deficit into a 26-23 overtime stunner.

Let's face it. Had Brad Childress been responsible for these embarrassing losses, the outcry for a coaching change would have been heard clear to Lambeau Field.

While it's certainly too early to give up on Leslie Frazier, the early returns aren't favorable. A couple of times in the second half, the Vikings faced crucial short-yardage plays and neglected to hand the ball to the league's top running back, Adrian Peterson. Once on fourth-and-1 -- and within range of a chip-shot field goal -- Frazier allowed his offense to chase the field goal unit off the field. Then, again, they ignored Peterson and handed the ball to Toby Gerhart.

Turnover on downs. No points.

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A field goal might not have changed the outcome, but it certainly would have put more pressure on the surging Lions.

How is it that Peterson only received 17 carries in a game the Vikings once led by 20 points? Then there's QB Donovan McNabb. So far he has looked like anything but the signal-caller he was at the height of his career in Philly. Sunday's loss was not his fault, but he also isn't making the big plays when the Vikings need them the most.

How many more losses will it take for Minnesota fans to begin chanting "Christian Ponder"? He is a No. 1 draft pick, and the Vikings brass kept bragging in April how NFL-ready he was.

The Vikings now have two winnable games -- against Kansas City (0-3) and Arizona (1-2) -- to right their rapidly sinking ship before they face NFC North foes Green Bay and Chicago.

If they are 0-5 or even 1-4 heading into those contests, the remainder of the season will be reduced to determining their 2012 NFL Draft spot.

In the meantime, it's time to change that halftime routine. Like maybe using the chalkboard to make some adjustments.

Contact News Tribune sports editor Rick Lubbers at rlubbers@duluthnews.com or (218) 723-5317.

Related Topics: FOOTBALL
Rick Lubbers has been in his role since 2014 and at the News Tribune since 2005. Previous stops include the Superior Telegram (1999-2005) and Budgeteer News (1997-1999). Prior to that, he worked at the St. Cloud Times and Annandale Advocate in Minnesota, and the Greenville Daily News and Grand Rapids Press in Michigan. He received his journalism degree at Central Michigan University.
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