EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. –Veteran defensive end Brian Robison envisioned making tackles this weekend instead of opening his tackle box.
"I never planned on fishing this weekend," Robison said as he cleared out his locker Monday morning.
Robison, who will now be joining a friend back home in a fishing tournament, would much rather be prepping for the Arizona Cardinals. Instead, after a one-point loss in Sunday's Wild Card game, Robison and his teammates are starting their offseason earlier than desired.
None of the Vikings planned this ending to their season, but the question is what to do with it. The answer for much of the team is to learn from mistakes and use the loss against Seattle as motivation to get back to work for the 2016.
"Any time something bad happens to you, it's not necessarily about that point in time; it's about what you do moving forward," Robison said. "We do have to use this as motivation for next year. This is a taste in our mouth we need to keep there and make sure guys remember how this felt."
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said he's coached other teams that had a sense of excitement and readiness for the offseason after a final loss, but the tone of the Vikings locker room has been very different.
"This team was not ready to go home," Zimmer said. "We have a lot of really good competitors on this football team."
Defensive end Everson Griffen said he took time away from football Sunday night following the game, enjoying his family and spending time with his kids. Returning to the locker room to be with his teammates for the final time this season sparked a vendetta in Griffen, who plans to use the loss as motivation.
"We should have won that game – I said that yesterday – but it didn't happen," Griffen said.
"This should be motivation. This makes me want to start working out right away, you know? Get back healthy, start working out right away, and get back on the ball," Griffen added. "We have a short offseason anyway, so it's just about letting the body recover and getting back to work. [We want to] finish stronger, and fight."
A tough loss to Seattle in the Wild Card matchup doesn't change Griffen's confidence in his teammates or in the Vikings' potential moving forward. He emphasized that the biggest things are learning from mistakes, making improvements, and staying hungry for football.
View images from 'move out day' as players said their goodbyes and cleared out their lockers at Winter Park.
"We have a bunch of guys on this team that don't play selfish football, that love this team, that play each game for another, and that's what we do," Griffen said. "We wanted it, we played hard, and we have to learn from this and not feel this way again."
Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn also stressed the importance of studying and discussing the loss and using it to drive them rather than immediately moving on and forgetting.
"I think it's better to talk about the loss and use it as motivation for next year," Munnerlyn said.
Munnerlyn, Griffen and Robison are all part of a defense that performed especially well under Zimmer this season. On Sunday, the Vikings held the Seahawks to just 10 points but only scored nine themselves and were unable to come away with the win.
"This football team [has] always kind of moved on to the next challenge that we've always had," said Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer. "That's why I like this team so much, is the way they go about their business."