Opening loss still serves as motivation for Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings were embarrassed in the season opener and have performed far differently since.

After Sunday’s win over the San Diego Chargers, the Minnesota Vikings are now riding a two-game winning streak. They dominated both of the last two games on both sides of the ball, which makes their Week 1 loss to the San Francisco 49ers even more confusing.

In their Week 1 Monday night loss to the 49ers the Vikings couldn’t do much offensively or defensively. It was clear that was not the same team that has played in Week 2 or 3.

“I hate going back that far but this team, and I said it that night, I didn’t recognize that team,” said Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer. “This team that I see everyday at practice, the OTAs, the training camp, the things that we did, that’s the team that I see and we have to go out and prove it on Sundays. And that’s what I tell these guys. We work really, really hard, we study, we prepare but we only get 16 of these opportunities and we have to prove it on Sundays. Everything that we do in this organization and this building, with our players, it’s for one day and that’s Sunday. That’s why we do all the stuff that we do. So I hope that we continue on this path but, again, it’s a long season and we’ll just see where we go.”

Even though their first game went so poorly, that loss might serve as a lesson for the Vikings. Since then, they have been dominant and a big part of it is because a lot of the players still carry the memories of that season-opening debacle, especially the defense.

“(This win)’s still a result of the first week,” defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd said when asked if their win over the Chargers was a result of their play against the Lions. “We got embarrassed early on and now we won’t be embarrassed again. We’ll come out together every week. We’re going to play hard and we’re going to play tough. If you can’t keep up for four quarters, oh well, we’re going to keep coming.”

The defensive line has been a dominant force the last two weeks and when they control the line of scrimmage the way they have been it makes things easier on the rest of the defense. Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said that the secondary knows that quarterbacks are going to try to get the ball out faster.

Munnerlyn was asked how long he thinks this team can have a chip on their shoulder from the Week 1 loss and he simply said that he always has a chip on his shoulder, joking that being a 5-foot-9 cornerback gives him a “little-man syndrome.”

But he continued on to say he believes the team will continue on because they all feel as though they want to erase the Monday night massacre.

“These guys in the locker room, we feel like we’ve got something to prove,” the cornerback said. “Our goal is to make the playoffs and to be holding that Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season. So these guys just going out there, we’re pinning our ears back and working.”

The Vikings will be heading to face the Denver Broncos on Sunday. The loss to the 49ers is still present in the minds of many of the players in the locker room, but they all seem focused on the task at hand and know what they need to do.

“Week 1, I’m always going to say they were the better team,” said defensive end Everson Griffen. “San Fran, they were the better team that week. We came out sluggish, we looked tired, we played at 9:30 (p.m.) our time, but at the end of the day we’re 2-1 right now and we’re on the verge of being 3-1. We just have to go out there and beat Denver, go out there and play for 60 minutes, do all the right things and we can beat Denver.”

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