Players address mood of the team

After a high-scoring loss to Chicago, Vikings players were looking forward to some time off and getting re-energized for the remainder of the season. See what several players had to say about the mood of the team.

With a 3-4 record, the Vikings aren't where they wanted to be and certainly not where their fans had hoped after numerous offseason upgrades.

But as the players were getting set to depart for a six-day respite on their bye week, there were a variety of emotions heading into a weekend away.

"Obviously it's a little somber just ‘cause we lost and it was a crazy game. We had a crazy game the week before and we won. Anytime you lose, things are a little different. You're a little sore; things carry over. We're always optimistic," said quarterback Gus Frerotte, who received advice from his father-in-law, a football coach.

"I talked to my father-in-law (Monday) morning and he said, 'Look, the sun still came up. You still got out of bed.' He goes, 'I know it's hard.' And he coached for a long time. I think all these guys realize that everything that happened to us, we're a good team and we've just got to keep going. This league, we played a team that was 6-0, there's Tennessee. We look back at that game and say, 'We hurt ourselves.' We have a lot of optimism and we say we're going to move ahead and get ready to play Houston. That's all we can look at. And there's a lot of games left."

That was the message from head coach Brad Childress to the players before they left town. They have nine games to turn up the winning percentage and make a run at the NFC North title, a race in which they trail Green Bay and Chicago by one game, with losses to both of those teams.

But, while the Packers and Bears both have byes this week as well, the teams approach them differently. The Bears are off for the weekend now, but they worked up until Wednesday. Childress wanted his players to get a longer physical and mental break. That was part of his message to the team.

"Just get away and refresh and look forward to this next game, and that's the only thing we need to focus on is playing the Houston Texans," safety Darren Sharper said. "That's our next opponent, that's our next step in getting to where we want to get to and that was the main message."

Earlier in the month, Childress called out Chris Kluwe for not punting the ball out of bounds when instructed to do so twice in the second half against returner Reggie Bush and the New Orleans Saints. Those mistakes could have cost the Vikings the game, but they still won, 30-27.

This week, after Kluwe dropped a good snap and subsequently had his punt blocked and returned for a touchdown in the first half of a 48-41 loss to the Bears, Childress took on more responsibility for the record and the mistakes of his team.

"Coach Childress, he always talks about us, talks to us about not pointing fingers obviously. He'll always take the blame first, which is pretty admirable, but I think everybody understands there is a lot of mistakes made personally or individually," receiver Bobby Wade said. "That's where we're at. Guys have got to eliminate those mistakes. Guys are competing. Competing is one thing, but when you aren't executing the way you'd like to, you're not going to win games regardless. It kind of trickles down to every single position, every single phase. Individually, we need to stop making as many mistakes and guys need to step into that and understand that those mistakes are the ones that are hurting us."

Winfield said he wasn't surprised that Childress took responsibility for the record.

"Oh, no. You guys are going to put it on him. It doesn't matter what our record is. As a player, my job is to go out there and perform to the best of my ability and I'm going to continue to do that the rest of the season," he said.

"That's what your head coach does," defensive end Jared Allen said. "What is he going to do? Sit there and point the finger at everybody? That's not going to make anything better. We know as players that coaches make the calls, but we make the plays. Somewhere down inside an individual is going to have to step up and say, ‘I'm going to make this play.'"

Allen said the setup of the NFL, with a 16-game schedule, makes every week count, whether it's going into a bye or coming out of a bye week with a 3-4 record.

"The sense of urgency is just like every week. You've got to win," he said. "We only get 16 of these. It's not like baseball, where you get 162 of them. You drop 60 of them, well, that's cool. We only get 16 and every one counts, especially games in the division."

Center Matt Birk said the time off will be important, especially considering the Vikings are still only one game out of the lead in the division.

"We're still very much in it," he said. "That's why it's important I think this week to freshen up and come back ready to go."

"Being able to come back in Week 9, it's a good place," Wade said. "Guys are going to be excited. Guys need a break now. Guys will be fresh."

NOTES

  • Bears defensive back Zack Bowman underwent season-ending biceps surgery Wednesday. The previous days have been a roller-coaster ride for the rookie. On Oct. 14, the fifth-round pick from Nebraska was promoted from the practice squad and last Sunday, in his first NFL game, he recovered a fumble in the end zone for his first career touchdown in the 48-41 victory over the Vikings, earning him the NFL special teams player of the week award. Bowman later added a game-clinching interception, the first of his career, with 40 seconds remaining to preserve the victory. That play came after Bowman suffered a torn biceps . Bowman is the first Bears player to record a touchdown and interception in his NFL debut since Gerald "Bones" Weatherly on Sept. 17, 1950.

  • Brooks Bollinger will be the No. 2 quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys Sunday against the Buccaneers behind starter Brad Johnson. Bollinger was signed by the Cowboys Sept. 8 after he was cut by the Minnesota Vikings. In his career, he's thrown for 2,155 yards with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions.

  • The Vikings are one of five NFL teams scheduled to have a scout in attendance at Saturday's Colorado-Missouri game.

    Syndicated content contributed to the notes portion of this report.


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