Leslie Frazier is an old-school football guy. He played on one of the best defenses in NFL history – the Super Bowl-winning Chicago Bears in 1985 – and that experience has influenced the way he wants to build and coach the Vikings. Frazier wants the Vikings to be a physical team that runs the ball well and defends the run with abandon.
And, as most quality football teams do, he wants his team to play well at home.
The Vikings did that this past weekend, holding serve at home and upending the San Francisco 49ers by a convincing 24-13 margin.
“We talk all the time with our players about defending Mall of America Field,” Frazier said after Sunday’s game. “This has to be a place where it’s tough for anybody to come in here and think that they can get a win. Our fans helped up tremendously [Sunday]. There were moments where they affected the 49ers offense, and I’ve witnessed that plenty of times in my years here, where our fans really make it difficult for opposing teams to come here and be successful.”
The Vikings do have had a significant home-field advantage since moving into Mall of America Field in 1982.The team now has a combined record of 159-88-0 (.643) all-time at Mall of America Field, which includes a 6-4 mark in postseason games. The Vikings have gone undefeated 3 times at Mall of America Field (1989, 1998, 2009), with Frazier on the Vikings staff as defensive coordinator during the undefeated (at home) 2009 season.
Key to the Vikings defending their home turn Sunday was a quick start that energized the crowd and kept them going through the final minutes of the game. The Vikings drove 82 yards in 16 plays and took 7 minutes off the clock on the opening drive to take an early 7-0 lead. That set the stage for Vikings fans to make the operation difficult for San Francisco the rest of the game.
“We wanted to get off to a good start to keep our fans engaged and our guys did that,” Frazier said. “I think we had a 16 play drive early in the game to get it going, our defense got off the field I think in six plays. From that point on, our fans were engaged and that was huge for us. Just a big win for us in a lot of ways.”
Now, the Vikings turn their attention to another big game – the one they have this upcoming Sunday against the Detroit Lions. This time, they’ll be the visitors facing a hostile environment. The design, Frazier says, is for his team to use last Sunday’s win to springboard them into next Sunday’s NFC North showdown with the Lions.
“To come home and defend our home turf the way we did at Mall of America Field, that’s a big deal,” Frazier said. “We have to somehow capitalize on this as a team and use it throughout this next week as we prepare for our next opponent. It’s a big win. It’s hard to win in the NFL, and it’s hard to win against a team who is as talented as they are.”
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