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Vikings Had Been Waiting to Use Fake Punt

One of the most memorable plays in the Vikings NFC North-clinching win at Green Bay last week had been called earlier this season but remained unseen.

Before Adam Thielen could race 41 yards on a fake punt to convert a fourth-and-3, the Vikings needed to reduce a third-and-11. When Teddy Bridgewater completed an 8-yard pass to Jerick McKinnon, it appeared innocuous enough to the Packers, but courage and conviction of Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer led to the early aggressive call.

"We didn't come here to finish second," Zimmer said after the game. "Let loose, take our swings, and if we get knocked out, we get knocked out."

Vikings.com asked Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer about the play this week, and he described how quickly a decision can occur on a moment's notice in a game after hours of preparation during the week.

"We didn't know it was coming. It was third-and-long, but all of a sudden, it's fourth-and-short and the head coach says run it," Priefer said. "I told our guys, and they went out and executed well. It's a fake we've had in all year, and we've been practicing and preparing for it.

"We've actually had it called in two other games, but we end up getting the first down, and the offense kept the ball so we couldn't run it," Priefer said. "It was a great opportunity to run it. It was a huge play in that game, gave us momentum, and we got some points out of it."

The Vikings knew they were going to make the playoffs, regardless of the outcome, but they wanted their first division title since 2009 in their second season under Zimmer.

The fake allowed the Vikings to get points on the opening drive and hold onto the ball for an additional 1:31 of game time.

Now that the Vikings are in a single elimination tournament, will he be as aggressive this week?

We'll find out Sunday when the Vikings (11-5) host the Seahawks (10-6).

In addition to Priefer, Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner and Defensive Coordinator George Edwards spoke to Vikings.com and media this week.

Turner spoke with Vikings.com's Mike Wobschall about matching up with Seattle and told Twin Cities reporters that Seattle's defensive front is "probably the best we have faced."

"They're good all the way across, their linebackers, their defensive linemen, they have depth in the defensive line," Turner said. "When they bring their safety down and have eight men in the box, there aren't a lot of real good runs, so they can outnumber you and they're very aggressive and they can out-physical you."

McKinnon could help the Vikings against the Seahawks this time around. The second-year pro has been used simultaneously with Peterson on the field in recent weeks and has provided a change of pace to Adrian Peterson, who led the NFL with 1,485 yards. McKinnon had four catches for 76 yards and his first career touchdown against Chicago. He followed with seven rushes for 89 yards and two touchdowns against the New York Giants.

"It's great. He's brought some explosive plays to us," Turner said. "It's a good changeup for us and takes some pressure off Adrian."

Edwards, meanwhile, has been busy this week focusing on the explosive playmaking ability of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who is the first quarterback to throw for at least 4,000 yards and 30 or more touchdowns and rush for at least 500 yards in one season.

Vikings.com's Eric Smith took a look at the real threats posed by Wilson, the Seahawks rush attack and the play action they like to implement.

"He's definitely mobile in the pocket," Edwards told Smith. "He has a good feel for the pocket and how to escape out of it, and then, he's able to make throws down the field."

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