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Vikings 2016-17 Paths Similar to Falcons 2016 Rebound

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Two seasons ago, the Falcons got off to a sizzling 5-0 start before stumbling down the stretch to finish the 2015 campaign with an 8-8 record.

Sound familiar, Vikings fans?

Atlanta responded with an 11-5 season in 2016. The Falcons not only reached the playoffs, but made a run all the way to Super Bowl LI.

The Vikings are hoping to follow a similar script, just with a different ending in their final game.

Minnesota, of course, started 5-0 last season before injuries, unsteady play and a handful of close losses saw the Vikings end the season at that familiar 8-8 mark.

Can the Vikings replicate Atlanta's success and make a Super Bowl run of their own?

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer recently said he feels like his team has grown from the frustrations of 2016.

"Maybe it's good we went through some of the issues that we had last year," Zimmer said. "I think a lot of it is the players themselves. They're pretty tough-minded guys."

Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn recently spoke to the Twin Cities media on a conference call Wednesday and was asked about rebounding from a frustrating 2015 season.

The good-natured Quinn initially provided a comical response.

"Man, you're bringing me back to some dark times, what's up with that?" Quinn quipped.

Quinn then turned serious and gave an insightful answer, describing how he and the Falcons focused on staying true to their methods and mindset.

"I learned a ton. I think going through it, it really makes you trust the process you go through to get ready," Quinn said. "When you don't play well, sometimes you can overthink it … 'Let's change this, and let's change that.' It really validates the belief of the process.

"Playing in pro sports, there's times you don't like it. We had one this year where we lost three in a row, and it was really challenging. But the main thing was [identifying] what areas you wanted to improve on and being really firm about what you want to stay to, and stay to it," Quinn added. "After that year, I said this is where I really want to make sure these situations are where you stay committed to the process of getting ready to play if you believe in it. It definitely makes for some resiliency, and it's a bummer we had to go through it, but at the end of it, I think we grew from it because our process that we go through to get ready and prepare, we really value that."

Time will tell if the Vikings can match or even exceed what the Falcons accomplished in 2016, bouncing back from a 5-0 to a .500 finish in one season season to reaching football's biggest stage the following year.

Minnesota is on the right track with a 9-2 record, and can keep its success rolling this Sunday when they play a Week 13 road game in Atlanta.

Receiver Adam Thielen said the Vikings haven't really talked about replicating what the Falcons were able to do but players have built on last year's experience.

"It's something that we kind of learned from, and we probably have it in the back of our heads, but we don't really think about it, we don't talk about it," Thielen said "We just take it week-to-week."

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