All the extra time the Vikings have spent this calendar year working on special teams appears to be paying off.
All of the time coach Mike Tice spent emphasizing special teams during training camp certainly paid off Sunday in the Vikings' 24-21 victory over the Giants.
Minnesota got two third-quarter touchdowns from the unit — an 86-yard kickoff return by Koren Robinson
to open the half and a 71-yard punt return from Mewelde Moore
— before kicker Paul Edinger
won the game with a 48-yard field goal with 10 seconds left.
About the only negative was two missed field goals by Edinger in the first quarter.
"I think (special teams) is the only unit except for the Chicago game (in Week 5), that has gotten better every week," coach Mike Tice said. "We've got a lot of young players that are playing very well, and we have a lot of veterans that are chipping in and doing a great job as well."
Edinger's game-winner was his second of the season; he hit a 56-yarder against the Packers as time expired in regulation on Oct. 23 to give the Vikings a 23-20 victory. Tice, however, admits he would like to see Edinger's consistency improve. The former Chicago Bear has made 14 of 21 field-goal attempts, making only one of five attempts from between 30 and 39 yards.
"We have a field-goal kicker that I have to make understand or do a better job telling him or lying to him, I'm not a very good liar, that each kick he goes out on is to win the game," Tice said. "Because when it's a game-winner, he makes them right down the middle; when it's an average kick in the first or second quarter, he doesn't hit them very well.
"So I've got to do a better job of getting him to take that approach for every kick. He's a hell of a kicker, hell of a clutch kicker, you know, we just have to work on his consistency. But our special teams right now can hold their own against anybody in the league."
Coach Mike Tice had an MRI test Monday afternoon to determine the extent of the damage done to his left knee Sunday when he was upended on the sideline by the Giants' Jamaar Taylor after a punt return. Taylor was blocked into the sideline by the Vikings' Laroni Gallishaw. Tice said he will be on the sideline for Monday night's game in Green Bay. "This is an insignificant injury. ... You can't keep me off the sideline," he said. "MCL, PCL, ACL, cartilage, I don't really care. I don't have to tackle or block or do any of those things. I just walk up and down, talk in the headphones. No, I will never be in a booth as a head coach. I won't be in a cart, and I won't be on crutches."
Koren Robinson wasn't surprised to return the opening kickoff of the third quarter 86 yards for a touchdown Sunday. "I felt I was going to get one this year," he said. "I wasn't going to make any guarantees, but the 10 guys ahead of me on the kickoff return team have been doing a great job for me, giving me holes to run through. I knew it was just a matter of time before I did break one all the way."
Long snapper Cullen Loeffler was confident kicker Paul Edinger would rebound after missing two first-quarter field-goal attempts against the Giants. Sure enough, Edinger booted the game-winner from 48 yards with 10 seconds left. "He's one of those guys that doesn't allow anything to get him down," Loeffler said. "You really can't. When you're a specialist, you can't do anything about the play before. You've just got to let it go and move on. Paul's a great example of that. He doesn't worry about that stuff. He just goes out there and hits every ball to do it to the best of his ability. He's a big-time playmaker when it comes down to winning games."
RB Moe Williams, who has missed the past two games because of knee and back ailments, will have an arthroscopic procedure performed on the knee this week to see exactly what's wrong.
QB Daunte Culpepper was scheduled to see Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., on Monday. The expectation is that surgery will be scheduled to repair the torn anterior cruciate, medial collateral and posterior cruciate ligaments in Culpepper's right knee.
FS Darren Sharper, who had three interceptions against the Giants on Sunday, missed a series-plus because of a bruised left knee but said he would be fine to face his former team, the Packers, next Monday night.
C Melvin Fowler, pulled after the first half of the Giants game because of a strained oblique muscle, received treatment Monday. It's unclear who will start at center against the Packers.