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Vikings launch damage control over defensive back mutiny

Minnesota Vikings v Green Bay Packers

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 24: Jordy Nelson #87 of the Green Bay Packers breaks a tackle by Andrew Sendejo #34 of the Minnesota Vikings during the second quarter of a game at Lambeau Field on December 24, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

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After Sunday’s season-killing loss to the Packers, it was regarded as true and accurate that the stunning defiance of the defensive game plan by the Minnesota defensive backs lasted for the entire first half. There was no attempt by the team to refute that account, which appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and it became a given that cornerback Xavier Rhodes refused to adhere to the assignment to follow Packers receiver Jordy Nelson wherever he went.

The Vikings are now saying otherwise, via a leak from a “well-placed Vikings source” to ESPN.

Specifically, the Vikings contend that, as soon as the initial defensive series ended, coach Mike Zimmer addressed the players, and they “situation was corrected.” The leaker also contends that Zimmer didn’t put a timeline on the mutiny, and that the situation got “blown out of proportion” by the media.

Of course, if the approach changed after the first series, the original plan didn’t work. Nelson caught seven passes for 145 yards in the first two quarters. In the second half, Nelson had two catches for nine yards.

If it’s true that the mutiny ended after only one defensive series, why are the Vikings leaking it to ESPN? Why not issue a statement with quotes from Zimmer or defensive coordinator George Edwards or any of the players involved? If it’s not true that the mutiny was ended after only one series, the perception will linger (and, given what eventually could be exposed as a clumsy attempt at a coverup, intensify) that Zimmer and his staff inexplicably failed to get the situation under control until intermission.

The all-22 tape of the game, which soon will be available via the NFL’s excellent online game replay service, will resolve whether Rhodes did was he was told in the first 30 minutes of the game. It won’t resolve the team’s curious decision to opt for anonymous leaks instead of a straightforward, on-the-record explanation.

Regardless of the truth regarding all of this, it’s obvious that yet another problem has been thrown onto the ever-growing pile that has killed one season in Minnesota, and that could loom over the next one and possibly beyond.