EDEN PRAIRIE, MINN. – Less than 16 hours after tying up a 49-17 victory over the Giants, Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer addressed the media to discuss takeaways from the prime time game and once again emphasized the importance of focusing on the game ahead of them: this time, Week 17 and the Green Bay Packers.
While defeating the Giants clinched a playoff berth for the Vikings, the tone is no less concentrated at Winter Park as they look to dethrone the defending NFC North champions at Lambeau Field.
"I'm going to talk to them about the things we didn't do well in the last game – the things we need to improve on," Zimmer said when asked what would drive the team emotionally this week. "I don't know that it's a big motivational week. It's more about preparation and doing things right and performing under pressure."
A win by the Vikings secures the No. 3 seed and the opportunity to host a Wild Card game against Seattle. A loss by the Vikings will slide the team to the No. 5 or No. 6 seed, depending on what the Seahawks do at the Arizona Cardinals. If the Seahawks and Vikings lose, Minnesota would visit NFC East champ Washington. If the Seahawks win and the Vikings lose, Minnesota would return to Green Bay the following week.
Arizona defeated Green Bay 38-8 yesterday, but Zimmer in no way views that as a sign to relax or let guards down. Rather, it's safe to say the Packers will enter *Sunday Night Football *even hungrier for a win than they were against the Cardinals, a non-division opponent.
"They'll play good, there's no doubt about that," Zimmer said. "I just happened to be watching that game upstairs earlier today, and [Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers] still looks like a surgeon to me when he throws the ball. He's accurate, he scrambles around – it just kind of got out of hand. The score, to me, was not indicative of how they were playing. I have a lot of respect for them."
For the next six days, Zimmer and the Vikings will be 100-percent focused on the Green Bay game. Secured playoff spot or not, they are taking things one step at a time.
"We just look at the one game that we're getting ready to play and try to win that first – we'll worry about the rest of it as it comes," Zimmer said.
Here are a few more thoughts from Monday's presser:
Zimmer on DE Brian Robison's performance as of late:
"Brian Robison has been playing really well the last three or four weeks or so, so that's helped quite a bit […] I've talked to him about this a while back – he's being less robotic. He's just playing. He's not thinking quite so much. I think that's helping."
Zimmer on a healthy lineup in win over the Giants:
**"I thought we played well last night. We didn't play as great offensively in the first half as I would have liked, but I think we picked up better in the second half. We got some turnovers, flipped the possession, and it was nice having [Harrison Smith, Anthony Barr and Linval Joseph] back in the lineup. All three of them are active and good football players. It should be a fun week."
Zimmer on the improved chemistry between TE Kyle Rudolph and QB Teddy Bridgewater:
"[Kyle] is running routes a lot better. I think he's running with confidence. Early in the year, for whatever reason, he wasn't getting the ball as much, but I think Teddy believes in him now, and a lot of times that's part of it. You have a couple options when you look at the coverage, and you have to make some decisions. The ball he threw to him on the touchdown [against New York] was really – he was looking to the left side, saw the safety, kept his eye to the safety and then got the ball out quickly to Kyle. There's a lot of trust in that kind of throw in that area of the field."
Zimmer on takeaways from the first Vikings-Packers matchup this season:
"We're going to have to do a good job in the pass protection, there's no doubt about it. I think they got after us a little bit up front [in the Nov. 22 game]…Defensively, they hit third downs on us – they had a third and 16 – there were quite a few third downs that they converted, and we didn't do too much offensively, early in the ball game especially."