MINNEAPOLIS – Minnesota's 30-20 loss to New Orleans Sunday night was a tough one, but the Vikings aren't hanging their heads.
There's a lot of season left, and the team intends to fix mistakes and keep moving forward.
The Vikings moved to 4-3-1 at the midpoint of the season after falling to the Saints.
Kyle Rudolph lamented "self-destruction" that led to the Vikings loss but also pointed out positive takeaways from the game.
"We have a really, really good football team," Rudolph said. "That Saints team is one of the best teams in the NFC, and we outplayed them. Unfortunately with some self-inflicted wounds, we're not coming away with a win.
"So you have to look at the good, take the good, study the bad and try to eliminate that moving forward," Rudolph added.
It's interesting to look back at the first halves of the Vikings past couple of seasons.
In 2016, Minnesota sat at 5-3 but finished the season 8-8. Last season, the Vikings were 6-2 and finished 13-3.
The Vikings have experienced ups and downs throughout the first two quarters of the 2018 campaign, but so have their division rivals. The NFC North standings are as follows after Sunday's slate of games:
In other words, it's anyone's division for the taking. Minnesota, Detroit and Green Bay all suffered Week 8 losses, keeping the race close.
"You don't want to rely on those things, but it's a long season," Vikings safety Harrison Smith said. "No matter how good or how bad the season has been since I've been in the league, things can shake out different ways.
"So there's no panic mode or anything like that," Smith added. "You just have to get back to work."
Adam Thielen, who notched an eighth consecutive game with at least 100 yards receiving but committed a costly fumble in the second quarter, maintained a positive outlook for the second half of the season.
"We're not getting discouraged by this by any means," Thielen said. "[Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer] made a great point with the team, saying we're a really good football team, and really good football teams bounce back and go to work. I have all the confidence in the world in these guys in the locker room that we're going to shake this one off."
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins reiterated that it's important to maintain confidence.
"There is a lot of reason to be optimistic now at the halfway point," Cousins said. "I feel we have a really good football team. There is obviously a lot we will have to talk about tomorrow morning when we cover the film."
Although half the season is in the rearview mirror, the Vikings still have five of six division games ahead of them.
Three of the rivalry games come consecutively, starting with next weekend when Minnesota hosts Detroit for the teams' first meeting this season. After a Week 10 bye, the Vikings will travel to face the Bears at Soldier Field before returning home to play the Packers for the second time this season. Minnesota and Green Bay tied in Week 2.
Vikings defensive end Stephen Weatherly said the NFC North "most definitely" is shaping up to be a marathon.
"I feel like the healthiest team is going to win," Weatherly said. "It's super close, so we have to keep it going, execute. We have a big game coming up next week, a divisional game. So we need to go ahead and tighten up and buckle up versus the Lions."
View game action images as the Vikings take on the Saints under the lights for Sunday Night Football at U.S. Bank Stadium.