Vikings Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton, in his weekly column for the Pioneer Press, wrote that the Vikings have delivered on preseason playoff projections because "they are built as a complete team at every level of the organization."
*Look at the quarterback performances from last weekend. *
Reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers was trounced by Carson Palmer, 38-8. Ben Roethlisberger, who leads the league in passing yardage, was defeated by Ryan Mallett, who was out of football until just two weeks ago. Four-time Super Bowl champion and two-time MVP Tom Brady lost to journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick. And, as we all saw, two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning lost to Teddy Bridgewater.
The moral of the story is simple: Teams win, individuals do not. It's a myth to think that quarterbacks are the end-all, be-all of football, the ultimate team sport.*
Tarkenton didn't make it to a championship game his first six years in Minnesota or five that followed with the New York Giants. His return, however, to the Vikings was followed by six straight division titles and three appearances in Super Bowls.
I was the same quarterback, just a little older -- and in the right situation, playing for a great team. The Vikings had a great defense, a great offensive line, great coaches, a great organization, a great culture. Everything was in sync from the owners to the equipment manager, Stubby Eason.
Greenway on big game
Sunday will be the 140th regular season game of Chad Greenway's career. Win or lose at Lambeau Field, the Vikings are guaranteed at least one playoff game that will be the fifth of Greenway's 10-year career. If Minnesota wins, it will host a Wild Card game Jan. 9-10.
Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Packers.
Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune visited with Greenway this week in his living room as the 32-year-old had help from his youngest daughter to take ornaments off the family Christmas tree. The significance of this week and next isn't lost on Greenway.
"It feels more special at this point in my career," Greenway told Souhan. "I know how fleeting these experiences are. We haven't been in this situation every year, like the Patriots and the Packers and the Bengals. We haven't had many of these opportunities. This is my fourth time in the playoffs in 10 years. We've worked very hard every year to be this kind of team, and over time you realize how rare, and hard, this is."
*Greenway hasn't won at Lambeau this decade. He's hoping he can finish his career with a two-game winning streak there. *
"It's just so frustrating because this hasn't been much of a rivalry," he said. "They've dominated the series, and it's fitting for us to go there and try to end their reign as division champs.
"We know how difficult it will be. As frustrating as this rivalry has been, we're the ones who have everything to do with that, and we're the ones who can end it."
Greenway also was featured by Kevin Clark in The Wall Street Journal for the role that cycling has played in his offseason training.
*Greenway can ride up to 60 miles in a day. But he has no fat to burn, and he doesn't want to burn muscle. So he prefers to go about 20 to 40, mainly in the off-season. When training for football, Greenway said he wants to mimic the game's short bursts, a fitness technique known as "interval training," he said. With that in mind, he finds hills around his Minnesota home and climbs them on his bike as fast as possible. *
*The result? Improved leg turnover, fresher legs, and nearly everything else. *
"It's helped my hip girdle, my jabs, it's huge for the hamstrings," said Greenway, a two-time Pro Bowl selection. "And it's a lot more core than you would think, just maintaining your position on the bike works the core."
In his weekly film study, Andrew Krammer of 1500ESPN.com noted that the return of DT Linval Joseph, LB Anthony Barr and S Harrison Smith enabled Head Coach Mike Zimmer to orchestrate a defensive symphony against the Giants.
*Eli Manning worked his hands like a conductor, but the symphony came from the other team. *
*Facing nine Vikings defenders at the line, Manning motioned his receiver away from the formation and moved his running back to the opposite side. Anthony Barr countered, sliding from left tackle to over center in coach Mike Zimmer's double A-gap front. The play clock struck :01 with Manning still pointing out Barr, and a delay of game penalty sent the New York Giants into a continued tailspin. Danielle Hunter sped past Marshall Newhouse on the ensuing 3rd and 10, sacking Manning to force another punt. *
"Well, a lot," Zimmer said when asked what the returns of Joseph, Barr and Smith mean. "I mean, a lot of times I'm thinking, 'All right, I want to use this guy to do this, I want to use this guy to do this,' from what I'm calling."