Mike Zimmer was a guest on NFL Total Access Tuesday and told host Lindsay Rhodes that what his Vikings team did short-handed and on a short week in Arizona has carried over the past two weeks.
Although they fell by three points, the Vikings sparked a fire that's helped them outscore their past two opponents by a combined mark of 87-34 and secure their first postseason berth since 2012.
"We didn't have a lot of the players, and everyone thought we were going to get killed. We went out and played pretty well," Zimmer said. "We didn't win the game, but we played good, we played with a lot of fight and intensity. We did things that are right to win football games, and it's kind of carried over since that time. I think that maybe gave us a little confidence that we can go out and play against these good teams and do things right."
As the mercury drops, Minnesota is trying to crank up a heater similar to the five-game win streak that followed a three-point loss at Denver.
"We've played good the last couple of weeks but we have to continue to do the things we've been doing. We've been able to get turnovers defensively," Zimmer said. "We're running the ball. Teddy has been playing good in this last part of the season, so we're going to have to continue to do that. We don't take anything for granted. We just try to be the best team on that Sunday."
The Vikings (10-5) can win their first NFC North crown since 2009 with a victory over the Packers (10-5) at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Lambeau Field in a game that was flexed to Sunday Night Football on NBC.
Zimmer has led the Vikings to a 4-1 mark in the division this season, sweeping the Lions and Bears and will go for his first win against the Packers.
"It's going to be a tough test going up to Lambeau," Zimmer said. "Aaron Rodgers is a terrific quarterback. We're going to have to play really, really good to beat them."
Rhodes asked Zimmer about the return last week of DT Linval Joseph, LB Anthony Barr and S Harrison Smith.
"They're extremely important. They're three terrific players, they're three great persons," Zimmer said. "They're smart and tough guys, they care about everybody else on the football team. It just adds another dimension and it was good to get some of these younger guys in there to play some while they were absent. When you get into this time of year, it's all about survival of the fittest and whoever is healthy at that time, you have a chance to play and keep going."
Rhodes also asked about Zimmer's close relationship with Hall of Fame Coach Bill Parcells, a valued mentor.
"We usually text about once a week. He'll text after every ball game, and I'll call him or he'll call me sometimes every other week or so, something like that," Zimmer said. "He's a great mentor to me. He's taught me an awful lot about the game of football and about being a head coach and really about life. He's done a lot of great things for me, and I'm always grateful for it."