Welcome to Around the Horns, our daily look at what's happening on the Vikings beat:
For the fourth time this season, the Vikings' defense surrendered a lead on the final drive of the game on Sunday. This one came against the Green Bay Packers -- who had switched quarterbacks in the second half -- and while the game ended in a tie, the Vikings gave away another win. In fact, if they had been able to make those four stops, they would be 6-5, tied with Detroit and ahead of both Chicago and the Packers in the NFC North standings.
As it is, they're 2-8-1, and as Mark Craig of the Minneapolis Star Tribune points out, the Vikings' collapses have followed a predictable formula. Each time, they've had a chance to close the game out and have been unable to do it. And each time, they've let an opposing quarterback -- ranging from proven passers like Jay Cutler and Tony Romo to upstarts like Brian Hoyer and Matt Flynn -- pick them apart.
It would be easier for coach Leslie Frazier, in some ways, if the Vikings' biggest problem was at the quarterback position. But four late-game collapses don't wear particularly well on a defensive coach, and they are all that stand between the Vikings and being in the middle of a competitively mediocre division. It remains to be seen whether there will be more collapses in the final five games, but the four the Vikings have already suffered will undoubtedly tell a big part of the story of their 2013 season.
Here are Wednesday's other Vikings stories of note:
We looked at what the Vikings need from their future quarterback through the prism of what the Packers have lost through Aaron Rodgers' injury. In short, an elite quarterback can cover up many of the problems that befall most NFL teams in 2013, and take an otherwise nondescript team into contention.
Christian Ponder's hesitation on a couple of plays late in Sunday's game wound up costing the Vikings, writes Andrew Krammer of 1500ESPN.com.
The Vikings are finally making good on their promise to use Cordarrelle Patterson by moving him around to different receiver positions, according to Tim Yotter of Viking Update.