Packers Game Proved Motivating

The Vikings can keep in front of the Saints for the final wild card spot with a win against Chicago, but Minnesota would not be in playoff contention if they hadn't turned their season around after an embarrassing effort against Green Bay.

The Vikings will play host to Chicago Monday night in a game that will mark their primetime debut this season and has been on the NFL schedule since it was released in April. The Vikings will play at night again this Sunday, but in this case the national exposure is a direct result of Minnesota's late-season success.

The Vikings-Washington game was shifted to a 7:15 p.m. central kickoff by the NFL and NBC under the league's flexible scheduling system. It will mark Minnesota's first appearance on NBC's Sunday night package, which began last season and is considered the league's marquee prime-time window.

The decision to move the Vikings speaks volumes about how far this team has come since Nov. 11. That date likely will be looked upon as one of the darkest yet most important for the 2007 Vikings.

An embarrassing 34-0 loss to Green Bay at Lambeau Field on that afternoon left the Vikings' reeling with a 3-6 record. Rookie sensation Adrian Peterson also went out during that game because of a slightly torn lateral collateral ligament in his right knee. (He would miss two games.)

Vikings coach Brad Childress and his players took immediate steps in the aftermath of that defeat to turn things around. Before the media was granted access to the Vikings locker room, Childress and a few of his players got up and spoke.

Remember, the Vikings were coming off a 6-10 finish in Childress' first season as head coach and at that point his NFL coaching record was 9-16. For most this truly was looking like a lost season and the clock seemed to be ticking on Childress' tenure as head coach.

Childress' message to his players was simple: Life in the NFL can end quickly for all of us and you don't want to be remembered for this.

"I wouldn't say (the loss was) the best thing but I think it definitely opened our eyes up," receiver Robert Ferguson said. "I wouldn't say it changed things but it made us aware of what we can accomplish. If we want to do it, we have to do it now. It definitely heightened the sense of urgency."

An emphasis from that day forward also was put on a one-game at a time approach that — while cliched — has kept players focused. A shaky 29-22 victory over Oakland on Nov. 18 was followed by victories over the New York Giants (41-17), Lions (42-10), and the 49ers (27-7). The wins over the Giants and 49ers both came on the road. Struggling quarterback Tarvaris Jackson started looking sure of himself. An incredibly suspect pass defense started to make some plays.

"Anytime you play like we did (against Green Bay) there was kind of a shell-shocked attitude," said kicker Ryan Longwell, a former Packer. "(Like), ‘What did we just do?' I think every NFL season that I've played in, all 11 of them, have had that point in the season.

"Even my rookie year, when they had just won the Super Bowl and we were going back to the Super Bowl, we were rolling and lost to 0-10 Indianapolis. As good as we were then, every season I've played in has had that one moment and that one game that you either have to get it going the right direction or it's going to tailspin out of control. After that game, that was that time this year."


  • WR Bobby Wade missed one practice last week because of mild swelling in the knee he first injured Oct. 28 against Philadelphia. Wade said that offseason surgery isn't a possibility at this point.

  • CB Antoine Winfield was fined $10,000 by the NFL for a uniform violation Dec. 9 during the Vikings' victory over San Francisco. The veteran wore athletic tape over the purple portion of his socks and his black shoes. Winfield acknowledged after that game that he expected to be fined.

  • RB Adrian Peterson has been wearing a brace on his right knee since returning Dec. 2 against Detroit after being out two games because of a slightly torn lateral collateral ligament in his right knee. It's expected he will continue to wear one for the remainder of the season.

  • S Dwight Smith was cited by Minneapolis police on Dec. 14 for possession of marijuana and obstructing traffic. Both are petty misdemeanors. An immediate disciplinary action by the Vikings wasn't known, but the incident does make Smith subject to the NFL's personal conduct policy.

  • S Tank Williams was expected to miss a third consecutive game Monday because of a knee injury and it isn't clear when the veteran will be able to return.

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