Vikings: ‘No moral victories’…but improvement

The Vikings defense limited the big plays but still couldn’t get the stop when needed at the end.

As the Vikings were quick to point out following Sunday’s 24-21 loss at TCF Bank Stadium, there is no such thing as a moral victory. The fact that the Vikings played a much better game Sunday than they did in their 42-10 egg-laying at Lambeau Field in October didn’t really make that much of a difference other than to show that the team is moving in the right direction.

The Vikings defense kept the score close for the entire game as the offense struggled early, but when the game was on the line the Packers were able to make enough plays to win, preventing the Vikings from pulling off a home upset.

“You can always take away something from any game, whether it’s a loss or a win,” Robison said. “We had a lot of good plays, but we still need to work on shoring up those bad plays. If we could have done that all year, maybe our record would be flipped from what it is.”

In their first meeting and with many recent bouts with Aaron Rodgers, the games have been typified by big downfield plays. On Sunday, the Vikings were able to limit the Packers’ big-time playmakers because they knew Green Bay depends on wide receivers Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson to make big plays.

“We came into this game looking to eliminate big plays,” cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said. “That was the key coming in because they’ve been putting up 50 points on people the last couple of weeks. We tried to eliminate the big plays and they made the plays when they had to and they came out on top.”

The difference between the first meeting with Green Bay, when much of the starting offense was watching from the sideline in the fourth to quarter, to Sunday’s three-point loss is a sign that there is some improvement being made. Now it’s consistency that needs to be the key.

“It’s what I’ve been talking about all year,” Robison said. “When we play assignment-sound football, we’re pretty good. Now we just have to be able to consistently do it. Obviously, there are still things we need to correct. We still had some missed tackles, but you can see the improvement that is taking place. We just need to put it together for 60 minutes.”

The defense kept the Vikings in the game until the offense warmed up in the second half, but when the Vikings needed a defensive stand the most, the Packers were able to grind out the clock, much to the frustration of the defense.

“The offense did what it was supposed to do,” Munnerlyn said. “They came down and got the touchdown and the two-point conversion, so it was on us to get the stop. We had two timeouts about two minutes to go and we didn’t get the stop. I feel like we let the team down. Offensively, we were just starting to roll and click. If we could have got the ball in their hands, who knows what would have happened?”

Many players showed the resolve not to let the Packers march up and down the field, notably Josh Robinson – who was abused by Jay Cutler and the Bears last week. While he played an improved game Sunday, the end result was all that really mattered to him and his teammates.

“In the end, it comes down to winning,” Robinson said. “You can’t keep having plays that keep their offense on the field. We saw some good things out there today, but we’re just missing that one big stop here and there.”

Safety Harrison Smith was flying all over the field Sunday, but he was blunt in his assessment of what the Vikings need to be a successful team and that they still have a lot of work to do to get into that conversation.

“There are always positives, even if you guys think we played terrible,” Smith said. “There are no moral victories. Either you win or you lose.”

Sunday’s loss can be viewed by the glass-half-full types as a sign that the Vikings are coming together, especially as a defense, but as far as moral victories go the Vikings aren’t accepting them.

“It was night and day (from the first meeting), but there are no moral victories at all,” Munnerlyn said. “We didn’t win. At the end of the day, we wanted to win. They got the win, so there isn’t a lot of good you can take from it. We showed improvement, but it wasn’t enough.”

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