"People can say you backed in, but eventually you had to win enough games to get there. As soon as you're in the tournament, it all starts over," Allen said. "We were 9-7 and we beat Jacksonville when I was with the Chiefs and then two teams had to lose. We didn't complain about them losing. Who cares? We got in.
"You look at the year Pittsburgh won it. We were 10-6 in Kansas City and they were 10-6, but they won the tie-breaker. They snuck in and won the dang thing. You look at the Giants. The Giants were on the road the whole last year and they went out and won it. Usually, it tends to be that way – the team that does enough to get in usually has that extra motivation. It don't matter how we get there. As long as we're in there, that's all that matters."
Ironically, the Vikings might have to beat the New York Giants this Sunday to move to 10-6 and win the NFC North title. The only other way they can make the playoffs is if the Chicago Bears lose to the Houston Texans, thereby giving the Vikings the division title at 9-7 by virtue of winning the tiebreaker.
Of course, the Vikings could have secured a spot in the postseason with a win last Sunday over the Atlanta Falcons, but seven fumbles – four of them resulting in turnovers – by the Vikings were enough to help Atlanta to a 24-17 win. Allen and Co. also could have gotten into the playoffs if Green Bay had had made a last-minute field goal on Monday night and beaten the Chicago Bears. Instead, Mason Crosby missed, Chicago won in overtime and the Vikings were left to wait another six days to try to make the postseason.
Allen's reaction to Green Bay blowing their chance to beat Chicago?
"Hot garbage. It was so bad. It was so bad. I was just like, holy smokes, because I'm a guy that I don't care if we back in or we side-step in, that's all I care about," Allen said. "You just had to see that coming, though – this is too easy for them to win it right now (on Crosby's missed field goal). And then the coin toss off the helmet – (Brian) Urlacher, I know you rigged that."
Receiver Bobby Wade, a former Bear, said Chicago knows what it takes to get into the playoffs and didn't want to give up Monday night, despite falling behind and looking sluggish early.
"We've watched them twice now, from their Thursday night game to their Monday night game, (hoping) to have something go our way with that. But you can't rely on other teams, especially a team like Chicago that knows what it's like to play in the postseason, that knows what it's like to get to the Super Bowl. That's pretty much the same team, the same players that they have," Wade said.
Allen twisted it the other way, joking about not being able to rely on one divisional foe to help out the Vikings against another divisional rival.
"I guess if you can't count on Green Bay for something, what are you supposed to do in this world?" Allen said with a smile. "No, it was a game we let slip away, that Atlanta game. It was a weird game. It seemed like all the breaks went their way. … We can't dwell on it. Lucky for us, we put ourselves in this position to where if we win, we go on. If we lose, we've got to count on the Texans."
Some of the Vikings, however, would prefer to secure a playoff spot by winning their last game. Safety Darren Sharper said Allen is entitled to his opinion about wanting to get into the playoffs any way possible, but Sharper wants to earn it with a win in the regular-season finale.
Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson said he kept catching different portions of the final stages of the Green Bay-Chicago game and had to question what was going on. But, with that possibility behind the Vikings to "back into the playoffs," Jackson now sides with Sharper.
"It's probably better for us anyway because we've got to be focused on this game and not back into the playoffs. … We want to win this game regardless, so I guess it's probably better for us," Jackson said.
Wade and Sharper could agree on one thing: "If it's not hard, it wouldn't be Minnesota," Sharper said, echoing a statement by Wade. "But we have made it hard on ourselves, but we still have our opportunity to achieve the goal we set forth at the beginning of the season."
THE GIVING SEASON
For the second consecutive year, every player on the Vikings 53-man roster participated in the team's community outreach efforts, the Vikings announced this week. Throughout the 2008 offseason and regular season, the entire squad was involved in at least one community event, such as visiting a children's hospital, building a playground at an elementary school, recording a public service announcement or visiting those in need at local shelters.
"The tone for community service begins with the leadership of the Wilf ownership group and Coach Childress and their encouragement to get the team engaged," said Brad Madson, executive director of community relations/youth football. "Our players enjoy (they are), helping out the many wonderful causes in our community. They realize how truly blessed they are to be playing in the NFL and for the Minnesota Vikings, and they are extremely generous with their time away from the football field."
Jackson actually has a better passer rating than New York's Eli Manning. Manning has an 86.9 rating with 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Jackson has a 96.8 rating with eight touchdowns and one interception.
Steve Smith leads the Giants receiving corps with 55 catches for 554 yards and one touchdown. Wade leads the Vikings with 49 catches for 547 yards and two touchdowns.
On the ground, Brandon Jacobs leads the Giants with 1,089 yards and 15 touchdowns while Adrian Peterson leads the Vikings with 1,657 yards and nine touchdowns.
The biggest difference in comparing the Giants and Vikings? New York is plus-8 on the giveaway-takeaway scale and Minnesota is minus-5 after going minus-4 last week alone.
Manning said he didn't know if he would play on Sunday, calling it a coach's decision.