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For Vikings, much ado about nothing but pride

VIKINGS PLAYERS spent 2 extra days in a Philadelphia hotel ordering the two movies a day allotted by Vikings ownership and, if you were cornerback Antoine Winfield, wolfing down room-service cheesesteaks and fries.

VIKINGS PLAYERS spent 2 extra days in a Philadelphia hotel ordering the two movies a day allotted by Vikings ownership and, if you were cornerback Antoine Winfield, wolfing down room-service cheesesteaks and fries.

Then, in a home-team horror show, they devoured the Eagles.


How does 5-9 even challenge 10-4?

For one thing, interim head coach Leslie Frazier used to work for Andy Reid. So he knew what was coming, even against MVP candidate Michael Vick.

For another, Adrian Peterson's thigh bruise got 2 extra days to heal. So he was healthier, and, therefore, more effective.

Finally, Joe Webb became less of a story, more relaxed in his role as successor to God, and, perhaps, less awed by the moment.

And the whole team . . . well, after losing their homefield to the snowy fury of Mother Nature the past 2 weeks, what's 2 more nights in a hotel?

A vacation.

What's a foot of snow?


If you're not wussies.

"Wow. It's just the tale of the season," Peterson said. "Whatever. We said, 'We're not staying out here these 2 extra days for nothing. We're going to get this win on Tuesday.' "

That was Frazier's message at the walk-through Monday, a message he knew was delivered as he observed his team from that point on - a message he stressed as he urged his team to showcase itself in the unusual time slot as the contender they were expected to be, not just an also-ran.

So that's how it happened.

That's how a bystander Vikings team - dysfunctional, mismanaged and unlucky all season - upset the Eagles, who had so much to gain, 24-14.

Frazier knew his vagabond tribe would play well. He figured the messed-up week might not hurt his club, which had lost its coach and its stadium in the past month; in fact, the recent issues might have helped them cope with this weekend's snow delay.

"I do. We've gone through some trials and tribulations the past few weeks," Frazier said. "We can control our effort and our attitude."

Webb, a sixth-round rookie out of his hometown school, Alabama-Birmingham, started his first NFL game in place of football's Zeus, Brett Favre, who sat out with a concussion.

Webb ran for the Vikings' second touchdown, passed for a key third-down pickup midway through the fourth quarter on the game-sealing touchdown drive, then picked up a rushing first down with about 4 minutes to play. He finished 17-for-26 for 195 yards and ran six times for 31 yards.

Peterson, who missed the game the week before, gained 118 yards on 22 runs.

The defense had sacked Vick six times for 39 yards. It had taken away two fumbles from Vick. It had intercepted him once, and dropped four other picks.

"Our goal was to attack Vick and made him pause a little bit," Frazier beamed.

His Vikings, the latest gypsies of the NFL, had nothing to play for. Their stadium's roof ripped earlier this month, relegating them first to a game in Detroit, then one at the University of Minnesota, both losses, which dropped them to 5-9.

This meant nothing.

Nothing but camaraderie.

"We played for each other," Winfield said.

Early in the game, Frazier used Winfield as the chief blitzer. Winfield sacked Vick, forced a fumble and returned it 45 yards to tie the game at 7 just before halftime.

They played for the kid, too. Everybody knew, with Favre possibly back in the lineup for the finale, Webb had a resume to pad.

"Our players have a great affinity for Joe Webb," Frazier said. "Tonight, you had an indication of things to come with Joe."

Peterson had a Pro Bowl berth to justify. Named to his fourth team just before game time, the Vikings' only representative, Peterson lacked the stats that made him a dominant back his first three seasons. Last night, on a bum leg, he carried the team - a feat made possible because of the snowstorm.

"Without question, this time off made a big difference," said Frazier, who worried about the injury after Saturday's preflight walk-through in Minnesota. "The time allowed him to get a little bit stronger and get more confidence in the injury. It definitely benefited us as a team and benefited Adrian."

Frazier had his roots to impress. The defensive backs coach for Reid and the Eagles from 1999-2002, Frazier left to become Cincinnati's defensive coordinator before, in 2007, joining Brad Childress, Reid's former offensive coordinator, who had taken the head coaching job in Minnesota. Frazier followed as Childress' defensive coordinator then got Childress' job when Childress was fired last month.

Frazier knew the Eagles' defense was nowhere near as dangerous as it once was, or even might have been this season. Four starters were done for the regular season and Asante Samuel, the ballhawking cornerback, was limited with a knee injury.

They were ripe . . . for 17 offensive points. But 17 points is 17 points.

Frazier leaned on his defensive line, which embarrassed the Eagles' offensive front five.

Frazier blitzed Vick relentlessly, blitzed him into poor passes and repeated poundings and a 25-for-43 performance, virtually cementing Vick's loss of the MVP race to Patriots assassin Tom Brady.

Vick threw for one touchdown and ran for another. But speedy receiver DeSean Jackson was invisible and running back LeSean McCoy, ineffective. The Vikings allowed tight end Brent Celek to roam, but his 10 catches for 97 yards meant virtually nothing.

Just like last night's game was supposed to mean nothing to the Vikings.