Reaction: Griff a Fighter to the End

The Vikings are young and show promise on defense, and they will continue to get better if the few experienced leaders, like Robert Griffith, continue to show the way.

We've got some fighters on this Minnesota Vikings team, as was shown by the great effort in the fourth quarter of what could have been a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. This game once again proved that late in a game if an athlete can successfully scheme a way to win mentally, then it is possible to execute it on the field.

And how about this 5-foot-11, 197-pound package in Robert Griffith? Griff is hands-down the best strong safety in the National Football League, and even missing nearly six full games he should still end up going to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. He has a passion for this game of football similar to what Daunte Culpepper has on the offensive side of the line. Griff's tremendous attitude in and out of the huddle and in the locker room is so contagious. Add Dale Carter to this mix and you see what some players accomplish when they have a passion for this game — they compete hard and have fun.

Griff's eight years of experience allow him to make slight adjustments during a game that are unseen by the average fan, adjustments that we'll never notice but that can make the difference between winning and losing. Again, it comes from experience. I'll give you an example of how experience can pay off with something that happened Sunday by comparing it to what some of us old-time Vikings linemen did in the past. It actually happened to me when I recovered a fumble during a Vikings-Cleveland Browns game. As I was laying on the recovered fumble, defensive end Jim Marshall grabbed me by the britches and picked me up off the turf since no Browns player had touched me. It enabled me to pick up an extra 5 yards before I got killed. (I still wonder if he did the right thing.)

Here is how the intricacies can play out in a game that is this close. When Talance Sawyer recovered the football on the Steelers 10-yard line with 2:13 left he did the proper thing by taking care of the No. 1 priority — recovering the ball. But with two other Vikings around him, either one of them could have told Sawyer to get up (or grab him by the britches) while at the same time looking to block a pursuing offensive player. This type of reaction comes from experience, and I'm not necessarily saying it would have created a touchdown, but then in so many NFL games experience can make such a big difference — especially when you have experienced ball players who are fighters. VU

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