Brad Childress isn't known as a fiery leader. At press conferences, he can be difficult to hear without the aid of speakers projecting his voice to reporters.
His players had no such problems at halftime of their game Sunday against the San Diego Chargers. He even appeared anxious to get in the locker room early to deliver his oratory.
The Vikings had battled the San Diego Chargers to a 7-7 tie with only four seconds left on the clock before halftime and figured they were in position to try to get into the locker room with a three-point lead. With four seconds left on the clock, Ryan Longwell was set to try a 57-yard field goal attempt. When his kick was short of the crossbar, Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie jumped up, caught the ball, came down with his foot just inches from the end line and proceeded to return the missed field goal 109 yards for a touchdown and ownership of the longest play in NFL history.
Childress was so fired up, he threw off his headset and started heading to the locker room before others grabbed him and reminded him that San Diego still had an extra point to kick.
But once the head coach got into the locker room, he apparently didn't hold back, according to safety Darren Sharper.
"He gave us a good one at halftime. ‘Go out here and kick butt. Let's bounce back.' The fashion in which we did it was impressive," Sharper said. "A lot of teams, being the way games have (gone) for us, after that play at the end of the half, you kind of want to see how you come back out in the second half. For us to play the way we did in the second half was real good for us to see."
Especially noteworthy was running back Adrian Peterson, who was held to 43 yards on 13 carries at halftime and escalated his performance with a 253-yard rushing performance in the second half on 17 carries.
Sharper said it was good to see the Childress – a coach who likes to refer to some players as "flatline players" and means that in a complimentary fashion – unleash a "fiery" halftime speech.
"That was the first time he did that – he was fiery. He's been fiery before, but you could tell that this one was getting us going," Sharper said. "The whole first half, he knew we were so close and it was about time for us to start making plays and we did that in the second half. When the game is in your grasp, those games you can't let go."
The Vikings have done plenty of letting go already this season. At 3-5, four of their losses have been by seven points or fewer and they have outscored their opponents 166-154. Especially frustrating were three consecutive losses after their season-opening win. They lost by an overtime field goal at Detroit after fumbling the snap at midfield, by another field goal at Kansas City after leading 10-0 midway through the second quarter and lost to Green Bay by a touchdown.
After the team was being accused of playing flat the week before, Sharper said a little halftime inspiration once in a while can help.
"Us being professionals, it's up to us to do our job. But it goes back to little league, middle school – always a good pep talk will get you going. … Those things just happen, and when they happen, you can definitely see that it's time to get going. We responded," he said.
At halftime, the team normally goes through their adjustments for the second half, but on Sunday the players were back on the field much earlier than usual. Childress had said his locker-room peace and the team outscored San Diego 28-3 in the second half.
"I know everyone was upset about what happened with the play at the end of the half. It might have been a carryover from that," Sharper said.
WELL WISHES FOR K-ROB
Sharper and Childress were both asked about facing former Viking Koren Robinson on Sunday at Lambeau Field.
"You definitely wish him the best. I think that's the best thing for him is to be back playing football and he's with a good team and they're doing well, and I know that makes it easier for him," said Sharper, who hasn't talked to Robinson this year. "From talking to him last year, I know that they have accepted him, the guys on the team and the organization."
Robinson, who has battled problems with alcohol throughout his career, was released by the Vikings during training camp last year after he was arrested for driving drunk and being clocked at speeds of more than 100 miles per hour, according to the police report.
The Packers signed Robinson after his release from Minnesota. He played in four games last year, recording seven catches, but did not face the Vikings before he was suspended by the league for one year. He returned to Packers action last week and caught three passes for 18 yards.
"I think I had a telephone conversation with him, but I can't recall when," Childress said. "He got pretty close with Robert Ferguson. I know that they text back and forth because Ferg has told me that a couple times. I just wish him the best and hope everything is behind him."
MORE A.D. ADULATION
NFL Network talking heads had their opinions on Adrian Peterson's record-setting 296-yard performance, simultaneously putting praise on Peterson and questioning the other skill-position players on the offense.
"They are one-dimensional and everybody knows it. It is unbelievable how productive he can be as a rookie," former NFL coach Steve Mariucci said.
"The quarterbacks are average at best. The receivers are average at best. And you know he is going to get it," said former NFL cornerback Deion Sanders
You do now.
QUARTERBACK WORKOUTS CONFIRMED
The Vikings didn't have anyone working out on Monday, but Childress confirmed Tuesday morning on Sirius NFL radio that they will be working out Koy Detmer and Chris Weinke as potential backups this week if Kelly Holcomb and/or Tarvaris Jackson aren't able to go.
Childress' Halftime Speech Inspires
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