Win or lose, the "24-hour rule" is consistently applied in the NFL. It turns out the length of time was much shorter for Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer after the Vikings won the NFC North by defeating the Packers at Lambeau Field on Sunday Night Football.
Zimmer began preparing for Minnesota (11-5) to host Seattle (10-6) in a Wild Card game at noon (CT) Sunday.
Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune noted how quickly Zimmer transitioned from a celebratory Gatorade shower from players to bathing in Seahawks film:
*A 59-year-old football lifer, Zimmer had been rejected by several NFL teams before the Vikings gave him a shot after the 2013 season. And within two years, he had taken a cellar-dwelling, five-win team all the way back to the top of its division. *
*But by the time the Vikings touched down at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport early Monday morning following a raucous 45-minute flight from Green Bay, Zimmer already had turned his attention to the next challenge, a red-hot Seattle Seahawks team that torched the Vikings by 31 points a month ago. *
*The signature win against their recent tormentors from Green Bay? That was just the next step in what Zimmer and the Vikings hope will be their path to the top. *
"I don't want this to be the defining moment in my career, for sure," Zimmer said Monday after excusing his players from Winter Park early. "I hope that there's a lot more on the horizon. I hope that there's a lot more things to accomplish."
A different team
The names are the same, but John Shipley of the Pioneer Press wrote that the Vikings might have become a different team than when they hosted the Seahawks last month.
Zimmer said during his media session, "I think they figured out how they have to play," after a 38-7 loss to Seattle.
*The evidence bears him out. Since losing to the Seahawks, the Vikings are 3-1. Furthermore, they won their first NFC North title in six years by beating the Packers 20-13 on Sunday at Lambeau Field. *
The Vikings insist they will be a different team than the one that meekly succumbed to the Seahawks a month ago.
"I think you can tell just (by) how we're playing," Zimmer said. "If you watched us play, without getting too specific, if you went back and watched the Arizona, Chicago, Giants (games) and last night, it just looks different to me."
Running back showdown?
The game could be a showdown between two of the best running backs in the NFL. Adrian Peterson is fresh off his third NFL rushing title (1,485 yards), and Marshawn Lynch could have fresh legs after recovering from surgery. Jayson Jenks of the Seattle Times wrote the reputation of "Beast Mode" is enough for Seahawks teammates to believe he will return in full effect.
*That is the level where Lynch has been, but the question is: Will he remain there if he returns for the playoffs after having abdominal surgery in November? *
*Lynch rejoined the Seattle Seahawks on Monday, which means he might play in Sunday's wild-card playoff game vs. the Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium. Teammates expressed full confidence in him. *
"Beast Mode," tackle Garry Gilliam said. "Let him do his thing."
"I mean, there's nothing like having Beast Mode," receiver Jermaine Kearse said. "You know what I'm saying?"
Pressure proves pivotal
In his weekly breakdown of film, Andrew Krammer of 1500ESPN.com noticed the Vikings tried to apply pressure* *on Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers throughout the game. Everson Griffen recorded 2.0 sacks, forcing a fumble that was recovered and returned 55 yards for a touchdown by Captain Munnerlyn for a 20-3 lead in the third quarter and forcing a 43-yard field goal that made the score 20-13 with 5:35 remaining in the game.
View exclusive images shot by the team photographer from the Jan. 3 game against Green Bay.
"We tried to stay aggressive," Zimmer said. "When it got down in there, we played a little bit more coverage, which took away some of their throws they were trying to make. Everson [Griffen] made an unbelievable sack on that one – great effort play. And there was a lot of that going on, there was a lot of great-effort things last night."
Griffen and Johnson wreaked havoc on a banged-up Packers' offensive line, combining for seven of the 11 hits on Rodgers. The pass rush got a boost by the blitz, with a five-man rush rate of 35 percent [18 of 51] helping to lead to five sacks – including two critical takedowns by Griffen that effectively forced an 11-point swing between his forced fumble, returned by Captain Munnerlyn for a touchdown, and third-down sack to facilitate a late Packers field goal.