Greenway, a first-round pick of the Vikings in 2006, wasn't happy about the blame different players received last week, saying reporters have no idea what the Minnesota Vikings are trying to accomplish on defense. The linebacker's frustration showed again after Sunday's win.
After the defense allowed the Cleveland Browns to drive 55 yards in 11 plays and in 2½ minutes for the game-winning touchdown, DE Jared Allen calling the Vikings' two-minute offense "terrible" the last two weeks. The previous week, the Chicago Bears executed a similar drive for a game-winning touchdown with 10 second remaining against the Vikings.
Greenway, however, said the game was lost earlier than that.
"You never lose the game in the last drive. The reality is when we're in that situation it's like basketball or any other sport. Just because the play happens in the ninth inning doesn't mean that you lose the game in the ninth inning," he said. "Obviously there's plays to be made all throughout that game to either break that game open or not break it open.
"Just like last week, you guys were all over that last two-minute drive. The reality is we didn't lose the game there. You can talk about the last two-minute drive again this week if you want, but the reality is, like I said during the week, the game wasn't lost in the last drive last week and it's not lost this week."
This week, it wasn't Jay Cutler slicing through the defense. It was Brian Hoyer, who the previous week was listed as Cleveland's third-string quarterback.
Hoyer was 6-for-10 on the final drive, accounting for all 55 yards, including the 7-yard, game-winning toss on third down to TE Jordan Cameron.
Greenway focused on plays earlier in the game in which the Vikings didn't maximize their opportunities. They had three interceptions of Hoyer and recovered a fumble on a muffed punt.
Harrison Smith and Greenway had interceptions on the Browns' two drives surrounding halftime, but the Vikings didn't score on either of them. On the first one, QB Christian Ponder fumbled when the Vikings were 10 yards from the end zone and the Browns recovered. On the second one, Greenway's interception gave the Vikings the ball in Cleveland territory again, but Adrian Peterson fumbled on Minnesota's second play following that turnover.
"We've got to play ball throughout the game. We pick up the ball, we've got to score those. That's the mentality we have to have on defense. We're doing all things the right way; we just have to get wins," Greenway said.
"When you play hard and you play as tough of football as you can, there's no excuse and no explanations and I don't have to apologize to anybody for anything. We didn't win and we're the most angry about that than anybody in this state."
LB Erin Henderson said losing the last two games on the opponents' final drive was "gut-wrenching."
"It's a hard way to go out. It's a tough feeling, one of those losses that sits with you throughout the night and into the morning," he said. "Tough to put behind you, but we have to."
BOOS CASCADE DOWN
Vikings fans booed Ponder several times throughout the game, including one chant of "Cassel! Cassel!"
"It's impossible to not hear them," Ponder said when asked about the chants for backup QB Matt Cassel. "We want to win just as bad as the fans, and as bad as anyone else. We're more disappointed than they are and we have to give them something to cheer about."
Added Greenway: "Of course we hear the boos. You ever been booed before? It's not fun, is it? We don't work as hard as we work to get booed. We're not out to get booed. We're out there trying to fight to get a win for this organization, for this city, for this state. We're fighting as hard as we can; the reality is we didn't get enough plays made this week.
"We don't want to be booed. We work too hard for that. The reality is we just have to come to work each week and we have to keep going and hope our fan base stays with us, as they always have."
PRESSURING THE QBs
Ponder ended up taking six sacks. It was a career high for him.
Last year he took four sacks in three different games. In his rookie season, he took five sacks against the Oakland Raiders.
"We're counting on our offensive line to play for us well each week and it seemed like Cleveland was in our backfield a lot," Frazier said. "They put a lot of pressure on our passing game with their four guys rushing and sometimes five. It's going to be hard to function as an offense if we can't protect better."
On the other side, the Vikings sacked Brian Hoyer – making only his second NFL start and first for the Browns – three times. In the second half, the Vikings started blitzing linebackers Erin Henderson and Greenway often.
"We were pretty busy. I honestly don't know until I go back and look at the tape and look at the film. I'm kind of a play-by-play person and just take it in as it comes and what comes into the huddle," Henderson said. "… I think we were pretty busy as far as our blitzing and stuff goes."
Henderson had two sacks, the first game of his career with multiple sacks.
Coming into the game, the Vikings had only one sack in two games.
"I thought we got good pressure. They did a lot of things as far as max (protection), chipping out with the backs and keeping tight ends in," said DE Brian Robison, who had one sack. "The bottom line is we just didn't make the plays we needed to make."
"They are stacking the box a little more," Peterson said. "… We have to come out and be consistent, all of these short runs of 5 and 6 yards. That's what you ask for is the run game, being efficient. That opens up the pass and that happened for us today. We just had opportunities that we just did not take advantage of. That's what it comes down to."
"When we get muscle pulls in the secondary, that affects us," Frazier said. "You don't want to start getting into your depth this early in the season and losing Jamarca and Chris and potentially A.J. (Jefferson). That's a concern. We'll have to see how they progress over the course of the week."
Neither Cook nor Sanford was sure if he would be able to play next Sunday against the Steelers in London.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.