Jackson: ‘I'm not playing tentative'

Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson hopes to avoid feeling the pressure of a playoff atmosphere in the team's regular-season finale.

Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson has made 18 starts in three NFL seasons and has a 9-9 record in that time.

Jackson very well might need to get that mark above .500 on Sunday if the Vikings are going to make the playoffs. The Vikings will enter their regular-season finale tied with the Chicago Bears for first place in the NFC North.

The Vikings will play host to the New York Giants on Sunday, while the Bears will play at Houston. A Minnesota victory assures the Vikings of the division title even if the Bears also win. But if the Vikings fail to beat the Giants and the Bears are victorious, Minnesota's season is finished.

This means Jackson, who will be making only his fifth start of the 2008 season on Sunday, will be facing the most pressure-packed situation of his career.

The key is that he can't play like that.

Jackson has taken back the starting role because he has managed to dial down the pressure on himself. This wasn't the case when he lost his first two starts against Green Bay and Indianapolis before being benched. Jackson played those two games with the weight of the world on his shoulder.

But since taking over near the end of the first half three games ago when veteran Gus Frerotte was injured, Jackson has thrown seven touchdown passes and has a 126.5 passer rating.

Jackson's touchdown passes are tied for second most among all NFL quarterbacks during that time, behind only the Patriots' Matt Cassell. Jackson's passer rating is second to the Colts' Peyton Manning.

"I'm not playing tentative at all," Jackson said. "I'm just going out there having fun. I know what's going on so everything is slowing down for me a little bit."

NOTES

  • TE Visanthe Shiancoe, a former Giant, leads the team in touchdown receptions (seven), is second on the team in receiving yards (582) and is fourth on the team in receptions (40), all career highs. Last week against the Falcons, he set single-game career highs with seven receptions for 136 yards and two touchdowns.

  • RB Adrian Peterson needs two rushing yards to become only the fifth player in NFL history to rush for 3,000 yards in his first two NFL seasons. Peterson currently has 2,998 yards since entering the NFL in 2007.

  • DE Jared Allen needs one sack to tie his career high of 15.5 sacks in a single season (2007).


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