Purple past, future clashed Sunday

The conference championship games provided a reflection to how close the Vikings were just two years ago and the first team meeting at the Senior Bowl kicked off the coaches' interaction with many in the incoming rookie class.

Sunday provided a glimpse of how close the Vikings were to a fifth franchise entry into the Super Bowl just two years ago and how far away they were in 2011.

The tight conference championship games in both the AFC and NFC Sunday only further reinforced the pain of Vikings fans and players two years ago with their overtime loss in New Orleans.

"That year stands alone. We did some great things and, shoot, Brett (Favre) played the best year of his life. We knew you couldn't duplicate that and you've just got to move on and take it year by year and game by game," defensive tackle Kevin Williams said after the what ended up being tied for the worst season in the 51-year history of the franchise.

The Vikings finished the 2009 regular season with a 12-4 record and scored 470 points. But their luck and timing changed dramatically when they were moving into position for what looked to be a game-winning field goal at the end of regulation. Instead, a penalty for 12 men in the huddle and an ill-advised throw from Favre that resulted in an interception, as well as costly turnovers throughout the game, all led to the Vikings' demise.

Like the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night, the Vikings felt their own overtime sting in the 2009 NFC Championship Game, one that caused the rules of overtime to be altered to allow the chance at a possession for each team. But in 2011, the losses were more plentiful even if most of the 13 losses were by less than a touchdown.

"It's hard to imagine, but when you start looking at those three-point, five-point losses, it happens quick if you're not coming over the top on those," linebacker Chad Greenway said. "It's difficult to realize that, it's hard to swallow, but at the same time it's reality. If you don't hit it head on, you'll be going through it again."

Like the Vikings' coaching staff did throughout the season, Jared Allen credited players for continuing to work hard, despite the frustration of a second straight losing season.

"We came in each week and worked our butts off. I've been on teams where we've lost nine straight and you knew going into the next game we're going to lose another one because that week of practice wasn't the greatest and the murmurs around the locker room were kind of like, eh," he said. "That never happened around here."

The day after the Vikings' season ended, Allen correctly predicted that there would be changes, and there were. Three weeks later, there is a new defensive line coach – Brendan Daly replaces Karl Dunbar – and a new defensive coordinator. Alan Williams, with extensive experience in the Vikings' Tampa-2 defense, was hired to replace Fred Pagac, who will coach linebackers.

The revised coaching staff descended on Mobile, Ala., over the weekend to get their first hands-on look at roughly 100 incoming rookies, but the Vikings' 3-13 record was good for one thing: It gives them the opportunity to coach the North squad in this week's preparation for the Senior Bowl.

"Going to the Senior Bowl is really big for us, especially with some of the changes that were made on our staff, and I told some of our guys that this week that it's really a start for us as far as jelling as a staff and beginning to put things in place prior to the OTAs (organized team activities) and the minicamps as a staff," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said last week.

"I think it's going to be a big plus for us, a big advantage in that way. Not only do we get a chance to look at the players and visit with them and spend more time with them than we would if we were outsiders. Having this whole offseason together I have to believe is going to be a tremendous benefit to all of us, our entire staff and squad as well. Not that that's an excuse for us not having more wins a season ago, but I have to believe it will be a plus for us."

Sunday provided at look back at the painful recent past, with the close conference championship games, as well as a fresh start toward the future with the first personal interaction for coaches with many from the incoming rookie class.


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



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Instead, a penalty for 12 men in the huddle and an ill-advised throw from Favre that resulted in an interception, as well as costly turnovers throughout the game, all led to the Vikings' demise. Like the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night, the Vikings felt their own overtime sting in the 2009 NFC Championship Game, one that caused the rules of overtime to be altered to allow the chance at a possession for each team. But in 2011, the losses were more plentiful even if most of the 13 losses were by less than a touchdown. \"It's hard to imagine, but when you start looking at those three-point, five-point losses, it happens quick if you're not coming over the top on those,\" linebacker Chad Greenway said. \"It's difficult to realize that, it's hard to swallow, but at the same time it's reality. If you don't hit it head on, you'll be going through it again.\" Like the Vikings' coaching staff did throughout the season, Jared Allen credited players for continuing to work hard, despite the frustration of a second straight losing season. \"We came in each week and worked our butts off. I've been on teams where we've lost nine straight and you knew going into the next game we're going to lose another one because that week of practice wasn't the greatest and the murmurs around the locker room were kind of like, eh,\" he said. \"That never happened around here.\" The day after the Vikings' season ended, Allen correctly predicted that there would be changes, and there were. Three weeks later, there is a new defensive line coach – Brendan Daly replaces Karl Dunbar – and a new defensive coordinator. Alan Williams, with extensive experience in the Vikings' Tampa-2 defense, was hired to replace Fred Pagac, who will coach linebackers. The revised coaching staff descended on Mobile, Ala., over the weekend to get their first hands-on look at roughly 100 incoming rookies, but the Vikings' 3-13 record was good for one thing: It gives them the opportunity to coach the North squad in this week's preparation for the Senior Bowl. \"Going to the Senior Bowl is really big for us, especially with some of the changes that were made on our staff, and I told some of our guys that this week that it's really a start for us as far as jelling as a staff and beginning to put things in place prior to the OTAs (organized team activities) and the minicamps as a staff,\" Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said last week. \"I think it's going to be a big plus for us, a big advantage in that way. Not only do we get a chance to look at the players and visit with them and spend more time with them than we would if we were outsiders. Having this whole offseason together I have to believe is going to be a tremendous benefit to all of us, our entire staff and squad as well. Not that that's an excuse for us not having more wins a season ago, but I have to believe it will be a plus for us.\" Sunday provided at look back at the painful recent past, with the close conference championship games, as well as a fresh start toward the future with the first personal interaction for coaches with many from the incoming rookie class. 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