With all the high hopes and expectations that followed the Minnesota Vikings throughout the offseason, few could have foreseen the colossal egg they laid on Monday night at San Francisco.
The Vikings were dominated in nearly every facet of Monday’s game and, for a team leader and captain like defensive end Everson Griffen, the result was unacceptable – to the point that, addressing the game in the locker room Wednesday, he ended his interview abruptly because he was visibly upset.
“I’m very angry right now, as you can see,” Griffen said. “We prepared way too hard, but we’re going to go out there and get (Detroit on Sunday). We’re a team that practiced way too hard to put on a showing like that in. It’s embarrassing. You should take it personal. I take it personal. ”
Running back Matt Asiata wasn’t aware of exactly what Griffen said, but he wasn’t surprised by it. Griffen is an emotional player and he carries those emotions on his sleeve, whether it’s on game day or in team activities. It’s how Griffen is wired and his teammates feed off that emotion.
“What (Everson) said, that’s how he felt,” Asiata said. “That’s how he practices. He’s done a lot in training camp and during the offseason and trying to get better and we got to follow our captain. He’s our captain and we got to follow in his footsteps. We need to go out there and try to play hard.”
While the fans are still dwelling on the negatives of Monday night, Griffen and his teammates are looking ahead, as is their wont to do during the season. There’s not enough time for extended celebration of wins or for anger over humbling losses like the team sustained Monday.
The last time the players intend to dwell on the 49ers game came Wednesday afternoon when they watched the game film in their team meeting rooms. Griffen was at a loss to explain why the Vikings came out so flat, but reiterated that what’s done is done and their sole focus is now on the Detroit Lions.
“It seemed like we were tired a little bit, I don’t know,” Griffen said. “We’ve just got to go out there and focus on Detroit. We’re going to go back in the classroom and talk about the tape. But our whole objective now is go out there and get ready for Detroit and go out there and win.”
Just as the Vikings were gaining a groundswell of momentum leading up to the start of the regular season, it seemingly all got washed away in Santa Clara. The good times came to a halting end and the motivation now is to get back on the field Sunday against the Lions and erase the sting of Monday’s loss.
“We took it personal,” Griffen said. “This is a personal game coming up. We’re going out there to make a statement. I can say that for myself, because I really did take (Monday’s loss) personal. As a team, we prepared too hard to go out there and put up a performance like that. As a team, we’re going to come together and we’re going to go out and beat Detroit.”
It hasn’t been easy to wash the bitter taste out of their mouths from the lackluster performance the team put in, but a NFL season is a marathon that has 16 component pieces – all of them equally important to the final record the team will post.
Their opening act fell flat, but there isn’t time for the players and coaches to dwell on the past. It’s done and the only objective now is to refocus and get ready for the Lions.
“Our biggest thing is now that we’ve got to go out there and grind,” Griffen said. “We’ve got to grind for Detroit Wednesday, we’ve got grind for Thursday and these upcoming days to get ready preparing to beat the guys. I feel that we’re going to beat them because we’re going to be ready.”