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Vikings Enjoy Moment, Know More Work Awaits

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Anthony Barr stretched his commemorative T-shirt over his shoulder pads.

Chad Greenway didn't don his until he had stripped his gear, but fellow veteran Brian Robison waited until he showered.

Teammates quickly found the appropriate setting on their adjustable hats and made them their own, bending the bills the way they like them, or in the case of rookie Stefon Diggs, flipping the hat backward with a fresh tilt, like the results in this title-bout renewal of the Border Battle.

The visitor's locker room at Lambeau Field understood this was a moment worth enjoying: a 20-13 victory that required multiple key plays down the stretch.

The locker room at Winter Park Monday will know the task at hand: the two-time defending NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks will visit Minnesota at noon (CT) Sunday for a Wild Card game.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer, a non-nonsense kind of guy to say the least, wore his hat to his postgame interview session. Zimmer, however, didn't exchange his Gatorade-doused sweatshirt for a T before hitting the podium.

"I'm proud of this football team. You know, we started out two years ago trying to build something special," Zimmer said. "These guys fight, they work hard, they do things right, they're good guys, they're good guys off the field. Like I told them last night, it's not a surprise that we are where we're at, but they've earned this opportunity and we have to go take it and I think that we played with a lot of heart tonight. We fought, it wasn't pretty by any stretch of the imagination and we still have a long way to go, but I think that this football team has a lot of character. I'm proud of them today."

Greenway, Robison and **2015 NFL rushing champ** Adrian Peterson were the only three Vikings on the active roster from 2009 when Minnesota last won the NFC North and claimed a victory at Green Bay. Phil Loadholt who is on the injured reserve, was a rookie that season. John Sullivan (injured reserve -- designated to return) was in his second season.

Receiver and Minnesota native Adam Thielen, who was a central component of **two successful trick plays** by the Vikings, watched that season unfold as a Vikings fan. He helped earn a similar moment with a 41-yard run on a fake punt on Minnesota's sixth play of the game and added a 26-yard gain on a jet sweep in the third quarter to set up a touchdown run by Peterson.

"It's pretty awesome," Thielen said of the championship hat and T-shirt. "I've always wanted to do it, and it's a pretty special feeling. We still h ave a lot of work to do, and there's some better hats out there, but you know, it's good. It's a good start."

A 20-3 lead turned into a cliffhanger, one that wasn't decided until **clutch plays** by Anthony Barr and Xavier Rhodes, and it brought back memories for Thielen.

"As a Vikings fan, I've been through it all. But, you know, it's a different team, it's a different feel this year, and we're going to try to do our best next week and keep it going," Thielen said. "It was a tough game for a spectator, that's for sure, but we got it done, and that's all that matters. It's fun to get this division, and we just want to keep it rolling."

In addition to the 67 rushing yards that tied with Peterson for the team lead and helped the Vikings (11-5) out-rush the Packers (10-6) by a total of 151 to 76, Thielen added a 16-yard reception on a pass play that benefitted from a play fake to Peterson, who secured his third NFL rushing title before hitting the field.

He finished the season with 1,485 yards, becoming the second-oldest running back to lead the NFL. It was the third-highest total out of the 30-year-old's nine seasons.

Blair Walsh has opened games with kickoffs and ended them this season with field goals (walk-off winners at Chicago and against St. Louis). He said the hat and T-shirt felt "fantastic."

"That's what I said going into the game, 'I want a hat and shirt,' " Walsh said. "[Punter] Jeff [Locke] and [long snapper] Kevin [McDermott] thought I was crazy when I said, 'I want a dang NFC North Championship hat.' You get to see all those guys on NFL Network when they clinch, and ours had to come down to Week 17, but it doesn't matter. This is just as sweet as anybody else's because it's here, we did it in Green Bay."

As for the harrowing finish, Walsh said:

"That's kind of what our team is all about. We fight down to the end here," Walsh said. "We don't ever go into people's house and blow them out. That's not a bad thing. We've got a lot of young guys in this locker room, and

they're learning how to finish games."

Rhodes, who nabbed his first interception of the season in the end zone on a fourth-and-goal from the Minnesota 13-yard line with 2:09 remaining said Zimmer is "a little satisfied" by winning the division in his second year at the helm for Minnesota.

"He always told me that he'll smile once we get to the Super Bowl – win the Super Bowl," Rhodes said. "That's Coach Zim', he's happy right now, but he's focused on Seattle and step-by-step getting to the Super Bowl."

Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, also in his second season, described Zimmer as "excited … but not satisfied."

"That's what we love about Coach Zimmer," Bridgewater said. "He said that this is only the beginning, and we have a long road ahead of us. We're going to enjoy this tonight and tomorrow we will shift our focus to the Seattle Seahawks."

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