EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Vikings players helped boost television ratings during Thursday's tryptophan tripleheader that included the other three teams in the NFC North.
The Lions plucked the Eagles, and the Panthers corralled the Cowboys in lopsided games, but a much closer matchup between Chicago and Green Bay capped the football feast.
Chicago's 17-13 win at Green Bay was worth waiting for until the conclusion, when the Bears denied the Packers on four plays from the Chicago 8-yard line, safety Harrison Smith said.
"I watched all the games yesterday," Smith said. "I haven't finished a late game this entire year, but Thanksgiving is kind of like a football day for me. It was fun to watch."
The win by the Bears (5-6) and loss by the Packers (7-4) puts the Vikings (7-3) in position to reclaim sole possession of first place in the NFC North, starting Sunday at the Falcons (6-4).
Adrian Peterson got caught up in the moment to the point of saying "go Bears" in a Thanksgiving tweet.
"It felt good. I was sitting there watching the games, and the first two were horrible, but that was a good way to end the night," Peterson said. "Green Bay lost, and we're back into first place. It makes you lock in and focus. We've just got to make sure we control our end."
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer continued to stress to players that the Packers loss won't matter if the Vikings don't do their jobs. It's a message that's been well-received by players.
"Kind of like Zim' was saying the last couple of weeks, it doesn't matter right now," Smith said. "It's obviously a good place to be but it doesn't matter unless we take care of business, so that's all we're focused on."
Flashback Friday: Peterson normally holds his weekly media session on Thursdays, but the holiday shifted this week's to Friday. It provided a flashback opportunity to his first regular season NFL game (Sept. 9, 2007), as well as his first touchdown, a 60-yard catch and run against a Falcons team that had Zimmer as its defensive coordinator.
"I remember going out on a swing route, catching it and seeing one guy to beat, DeAngelo Hall," Peterson recalled. "Sidney Rice came off and made a great block."
'Sometimes I'm nice': Zimmer had the quote of the day Friday when asked a follow-up question after the second-year head coach told media about the gratitude he expressed to Peterson, the NFL's leading rusher, on Friday.
"I told him today how much I appreciated him, everything he does for us," Zimmer said. "His leadership, the way he comes out here to practice, the way he prepares, really everything. I'm impressed with him, just the way he does things all of the time."
When asked if the comments were made in the spirit of Thanksgiving, Zimmer replied, "No, sometimes I'm nice. I say nice things to guys. It's not often but once in a while I do."
Peterson said "It feels good," to hear that, but believes the feeling is understood even when not expressed. "Just knowing Coach Zim', I get that sense from him, that he's appreciative and it's mutual."
Rehab work: As much as Smith allowed himself to enjoy Thursday's games, he hopes he isn't a spectator Sunday because of a knee injury he suffered against Green Bay. The safety is listed as questionable, along with Everson Griffen.
"I'm just kind of going off the info and stick by the schedule that the docs and trainers are giving me, try to work as a team with them and just get better," Smith said.
Injury repots: In addition to Smith and Griffen, Trae Waynes (ankle) is questionable. Robert Blanton (ankle), Sharrif Floyd (ankle), Matt Kalil (toe), Eric Kendricks (ribs), Anthony Barr (hand) and Teddy Bridgewater (left shoulder) fully participated Friday and are probable.
For the Falcons: RB Devonta Freeman (concussion), WR Leonard Hankerson (hamstring) and K Matt Bryant did not participate and have been ruled out. K Shayne Graham, who was signed this week did not participate Friday, but it was not injury related. Graham, CB Robert Alford (groin), G Andy Levitre (knee) and S Robenson Therezie (hamstring) were limited a second straight day.