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A day that began with unusual ambiguity at Winter Park ended with a very black-and-white decision: Percy Harvin's 2012 season is over.

The Vikings officially placed their standout receiver on injured reserve Wednesday evening, with Harvin unable to show significant recovery from the severe left ankle sprain he suffered Nov. 4 in Seattle.

Over the past four weeks, Harvin had tried to bounce back from the injury, which he sustained while being tackled on a run late in the third quarter of the Vikings' 30-20 loss to the Seahawks.

But his recuperation never could get over the hump, convincing the Vikings to make a no-turning-back move as they approach the season's final four games.

Yet, as is often the case with Harvin, Wednesday's definitive news contained an odd layer of mystery, too.

In the morning, after announcing Harvin would miss the day's practice, Frazier was asked directly if there were additional issues beyond the ankle that had contributed to the receiver's continued absence.

The Vikings coach looked up, then down. He hesitated for a second and carefully formed his response.

"You know, it's ..." Frazier said. "I know that he wants to win like we do. And I'm sure he's going to do everything he can to do what he has to do to help our football team.

"We'll see where it goes."

It wasn't exactly a straightforward answer to a head-on inquiry.

Perhaps Frazier was simply attempting to talk around a major decision that hadn't yet been finalized and rubber-stamped. But given the chapters of melodrama in Harvin's past -- including his confrontations with former coach Brad Childress and his odd trade request during this past June's minicamp -- Frazier's ambiguity left open the speculation that there might be complicated subtext to the whole situation.

Don't forget, the last game in which Harvin played -- that Week 9 loss in Seattle -- also included a brief but sizzling sideline tirade as the mercurial receiver screamed at Frazier following a stalled drive that resulted in a field goal.

Not long after, Frazier had a behind-the-scenes meeting with Harvin to discuss his behavior.

"He's not the only guy who wants to vent and speak out about a situation," Frazier said during the bye week. "But other guys find the right forum. So that's what we talked about."

Always a fiery competitor, Harvin seemed intent on getting through his ankle sprain and getting back on the field as soon as possible. He sat out the team's 34-24 victory over Detroit in Week 10 but stayed in Minnesota over the bye week to continue getting treatment.

Harvin had hoped to return to action each of the past two weeks. But leading up to last weekend's game in Green Bay, his efforts to return to practice proved unsuccessful. According to Frazier, Harvin had the most trouble pushing off and changing direction on the ankle.

Frazier made clear Wednesday that the receiver had been serious about his recovery throughout.

"He's done pretty much the things the trainers have asked him to do," Frazier said.

Still, as the receiver's absence dragged out, Frazier seemed to grow more frustrated. Last Thursday, the Vikings coach asserted that one of the biggest keys to Harvin's return might be his willingness to play through the discomfort.

"You've just got to work through it," Frazier said. "Pain tolerance is the key, how much he can tolerate."

Ironically, Harvin's doggedness to push through a nagging hamstring problem in Seattle led to the ankle sprain. Then, the receiver's persistence to continue playing through that injury might have worsened the severity.

Now, Harvin's season is done, in the books with 62 catches for 677 yards and three touchdowns over nine games.

His absence won't be good for an offense that's clearly missed him. The Vikings have amassed a total of only 263 passing yards and 24 points in back-to-back road losses to the Bears and Packers.

That's just part of life without Harvin, which will now continue for the rest of the season.

VIKINGS WEEK 14 • Up next: Noon Sunday vs. Chicago • Mall of America Field • TV: Ch. 9 (100.3-FM, 1130-AM)