There are certain milestones that are emblematic of long-term excellence that only a rare few players achieve. Minnesota Vikings defensive end Brian Robison reached a career milestone that is rare in franchise history, but it was tempered by the fact that the Vikings put in their worst game of the season in a soul-crushing 34-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts Sunday.
When he started the game Sunday, Robison became just the fourth Vikings defensive end to record 100 career starts, joining Vikings legends Carl Eller, Jim Marshall and Chris Doleman.
But, the honor was overshadowed by the loss that put the Vikings’ 2016 playoff hopes on life support. While Robison acknowledged the pride he felt in his accomplishment, it was a little bittersweet.
“It is (an honor), but I wish we could have come away with a victory,” Robison said. “It’s a great honor to be blessed to stay healthy for this long, but, at the end of the day, we didn’t get the ballgame that we wanted.”
What tainted the good feeling about reaching his milestone was that the Vikings played their worst game of season against the Colts.
Robison was at a loss to explain why the most important game saw the Vikings lay such a huge egg in front of the home fans.
“I just don’t think we played very well,” Robison said. “We committed penalties that shot ourselves in the foot. We turned the ball over. We didn’t create turnovers. When you start adding all those up together, especially against a team like Indianapolis that has a good offense, you just can’t make those mistakes.”
It doesn’t help the Vikings’ cause that they are going into Lambeau Field Saturday against a Packers team that has won four straight and controls its own destiny in the NFC North.
Robison doesn’t believe the Packers have fundamentally changed since the team got throttled by the Vikings in Week 2. They’ve just put things together offensively that has them on a roll that has seen them not lose for more than a month.
“I don’t know if they’ve necessarily changed a lot, I just think they’re clicking on all cylinders right now,” Robison said. “Jordy (Nelson) looks like he’s back to his regular form that he’s been, so that’s been a big help for their offense. They’ve stayed pretty healthy for most of the season. When you look at it, they’ve got a collective group that is making plays right now. They’re hot coming into this game and we’ve got to do whatever we can do to slow them down.”
As the Vikings head to Green Bay, they will once again be without another key player – defensive tackle Tom Johnson. Johnson has been a steady influence in the defensive tackle rotation, but was lost for the season in Sunday’s loss to the Colts.
Unfortunately for the Vikings, they’re getting far too accustomed to having players go down to injuries and it’s what they’ve become known for this season.
“Any time you lose a guy it’s tough, but that’s kind of been the motto of our season this year,” Robison said. “We’ve been losing guys left and right, but, at the end of the day, nobody’s going to pause the schedule for you and say, ‘We’ll let you get healthy and we’ll play you in a few weeks.’”
Despite the recent woes the Vikings have, Robison knows that when they hook up with the Packers, the game is different from most because the rivalry that Minnesota and Green Bay have built often supersedes how hot or cold a team is at the time the games are played.
“It’s always a challenge,” Robison said. “You could throw the records out the window no matter what when you play this game. It’s fun because there are two teams that have rich traditions, great history. Bordering states. You can go down the line of what makes it special. But, at the end of the day, when you get between those white lines, it’s just a different feel to the game.”
Coming off their worst game of the season, Robison said the Vikings can’t dwell on the past. They’ve got the Packers in front of them and all they can do at this point is keep their focus on their feint playoff hopes and take care of their business.
There is no time to wallow in the past. They’ve got too much at stake in front of them.
“You put it behind you,” Robison said. “We’ve got Green Bay coming up. We’ve got to go to their place in a cold environment, a hostile environment. At the end of the day, we can’t sit here and dwell on (the Indianapolis game). If we do, we’ll get our teeth kicked in again.”