Must be that time of year when the Vikings have fallen on hard times just when it is most important to make a push for the playoffs, and players are reacting in different ways.
"Depends on the person," said defensive end Darrion Scott when asked how players respond as the losses accumulate. "If this is what you love to do, then you're going to come to work and try to get better because we still have a season next year. That's what you've got to look at, and we've still got a game next week besides that.
"But I don't think anybody is going to come in here and be like, ‘The season's over and I'm just going to come in and practice through it and then when the game comes I'm going to BS my way through it.' I don't think anybody is going to do that. We've got a lot of guys that love to play football. Hopefully, everybody comes in here with a positive attitude these past couple of weeks and just keeps trying to get better. Hopefully, we can win out. I hope that's on everybody's mind and everybody has the same mentality to come here every week and practice and get better from here on out."
The Vikings might have to do that to have a chance at the playoffs. They are currently 4-6, with six NFC teams with a winning record, three at 5-5 and two others joining the Vikings with two more losses than wins.
The playoffs seem like a remote possibility at this point, especially after the Vikings have lost four straight games. Breaking that losing streak comes first, according to linebacker Ben Leber.
"I don't know what we're going to do. All we can think about is getting a win. We just need to concentrate on winning. It's frustrating," Leber said. "For a defensive team to hold them to negative-3 yards, it's frustrating that we can't get a win."
A number of defenders expressed frustration expressed a passive frustration with the offense, seemingly trying to stay away from pointing the finger but having a hard time figuring out how their team could have lost after holding Miami to negative-3 yards rushing, a figure that was changed Monday to 4 yards rushing after Elias Sport Bureau reviewed the film.
"If you heard that, you'd assume they'd won, but this is the NFL – anything can happen," said Kevin Williams. "They're paid to play, just like we are. We can't be just stopping the run. We've got to stop the pass too. Evidently, we didn't do enough to win the game so we've just got to keep working."
The offensive players also realize they aren't scoring enough points.
"It's always frustrating when you're able to move the ball on a team but you can't finish with seven points," said tackle Bryant McKinnie.
But there was another factor that made Sunday's loss to the Miami Dolphins even harder for some defenders to swallow: Even if the offense had scored only 13 points, that would have been enough for the Vikings to win if the offense hadn't turned the ball over two times in the final 10 minutes. That gave Miami its final 14 points via defensive touchdowns – a 48-yard fumble return and a 51-yard interception return, both for touchdowns.
"When the offense turns the ball over like that, it makes it kind of hard to win," Scott said. "That showed in Miami and I thought defensively we played well enough to win. When you turn the ball over like that – and not just turnovers, but turnovers for touchdowns – it makes it pretty difficult to get back into the game when it's late in the game like that.
"As a defensive player, you can't say that you don't get frustrated when things like that happen. With the turnover bug, sometimes it's just like that in the NFL when a team has turnovers like that. Defensively, we can't put it all on our offense. The defenses are scoring more nowadays, and I feel like we can do more – if our defense can score a little, maybe we give our offense more of a chance if they can't get it going."
That may be the only way for the frustrated Vikings to win.
The fans are irritated and the media is tiring of asking the same questions on a weekly basis, but Childress said the people responsible for the losing are the most disappointed.
"No one is more disappointed than our players, our staff and our coaches about that loss (Sunday), and I have not been able to make true the mantra, ‘The Vikings don't beat the Vikings.' Because, (13) minutes to go, you turn the ball over two times, you are not going to win many football games in this league. I'm disappointed in that," Childress said.
Despite what some of the players are saying, Childress said he hasn't sensed the defenders starting to assign blame.
"You become two teams, three teams if people are pointing fingers," he said. "Are they frustrated? Sure they are. Are they disappointed? Absolutely. I'd be disappointed in them if they weren't. But I don't feel that, and I think they'll have a few things that they can look at and correct as well."
Said running back Mewelde Moore: "Everybody's accountable. We're all part of this team. We're all doing the little things, trying to do the little things, to help us win. And that's our main focus."