Several Vikings veterans have waited a long time for a division title, and a few of them had never won a division title before Sunday, making their victory even more enjoyable. See what they had to say about the championship and get more than 30 notes that help tell the story of the game.
It's been a long time in coming, but, after eight long years, the Vikings are once again the champions of the NFC North. For those who have been here through the entire run, it was a chance to enjoy what they have accomplished.
"Every year is different," said center Matt Birk
, whose first year as a starter was in 2000 – the last time the Vikings won a division crown. "Each year, you put a lot of hard work into achieving your goal, which is to win your division. We've accomplished that goal and it feels good. It releases a lot of endorphins in the brain."
Perhaps the player having the hardest time with the celebration was Pat Williams
, who said he hopes to be ready for the first-round game next weekend. He said he has been a hard time watching his teammates – both from at home and from the sideline.
"My heart was pounding on the sidelines," Williams said. "It was a weird feeling. Last week, I was watching the (Atlanta) game at home and just about busted my TV set. This week, I was on the sidelines and about to choke some guys out."
With their first objective achieved, the 10-6 Vikings now set their sights on hosting a playoff game next weekend. But, for a few hours, they're going to soak in the victory and what it means to them.
"To be a division champion and have that banner raised at the (practice) facility, it's awesome," defensive end Jared Allen
said. "This is why I came here. This is why I wanted to be a Minnesota Viking. Now the fun begins. Let's see how far we can go. Now that we're in it, let's win it."
Pat Williams said he hopes to be ready for next week's game, telling VU, "I've got to get my strength back in the shoulder. The swelling is gone and most of the pain is gone. Now it's about getting my strength back. I'm going in tomorrow to rehab twice and twice on Tuesday. I hope to be ready for next weekend."
Adrian Peterson became the first Viking to win the NFL rushing title with 1,760 yards, fighting off a charge from Michael Turner, who ran for 208 yards against the Rams.
Peterson's 1,760 rushing yards is the 20th highest single-season total in NFL history and the most yards gained over the last two seasons.
The Giants ended up winning the yardage battle with 357 yards (222 passing, 135 rushing) to 328 for the Vikings (218 passing, 110 rushing).
The Giants dominated time of possession, holding the ball for 34:19 – including 29:37 of final three quarters.
The Vikings had just two penalties in the entire game – a false start on Bobby Wade and a personal foul on Tarvaris Jackson following his end zone interception.
The Vikings went the entire season without allowing a 100-yard rusher. Derrick Ward had 77 yards on 15 carries to lead the Giants.
Peterson led the Vikings with 103 yards on 21 carries, the 10th time this year he topped 100 yards in a game.
Bobby Wade came just two yards of short of 100 for the day, catching four passes for 98 yards, including a 41-yarder.
Jackson finished the game completing 16 of 26 passes for 239 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Wade ended up leading the team in receptions for the second straight year. He finished with 53, five ahead of Bernard Berrian.
Berrian missed his first 1,000-yard season of his career by finishing with 48 catches for 964 yards – a 20.1-yard average.
Jackson finished the regular season with a passer rating of 95.4, one of the highest ratings in the league.
John Carney's missed field goal in the fourth quarter was his first true miss of the season. Prior to that, he had made 35 of 37 attempts, with both of his misses being blocked kicks.
In what could have been a critical moment, Brad Childress burned a timeout on a challenge on the first drive of the second half that had little chance of being overturned. It wasn't and the Vikings lost a valuable timeout. Surprisingly, the play happened just feet away from Childress, who was watching at the time, but apparently had a bad angle.
On the first drive of the second half, Ward went over 1,000 yards rushing for the season, making him and Brandon Jacobs just the fourth set of running backs to both top 1,000 yards rushing in a season.
The Giants dominated the action in the second quarter. They held the ball for all but 3:12 of the quarter. New York had 10 first downs in the first half while the Vikings had six, and the Giants had 174 total yards (60 rushing, 114 passing) while the Vikings had 147 (83 rushing, 64 passing).
The Vikings had no penalties in the first half and converted four of nine third-down chances. The Giants had four penalties and converted just one of six third-down opportunities.
Jackson completed 7 of 14 passes in the first half for 85 yards, with Wade leading the way with two catches for 36 yards. Peterson had 10 carries for 77 yards.
Eli Manning's day was over at halftime, as he completed 11 of 19 passes for 119 yards. Four players had two or more receptions, led by Domenik Hixon with three catches for 39 yards. Ward ran 11 times for 47 yards.
The Vikings got burned for a pair of field goals in the final 1:03 of the first half. They were stop just short of field goal range when Jackson had a 4-yard loss on a run, turning the ball over on downs with 27 seconds to play – only to have Manning complete a pair of passes to Hixon to set up another Carney field goal as time expired.
In the final two minutes of the first half, Ray Edwards injured his left knee and had to come out of the game.
Peterson's 67-yard touchdown run in the second quarter was his longest run of the season and second longest of his career. After gaining just 11 yards on his first eight carries, after his TD run, he had nine carries for 78 yards – yet another sign as to why he is so dangerous.
The Vikings held a huge time-of-possession edge in the first quarter, holding the ball 10:18 of the first 15 minutes. The Vikings had 55 yards in the quarter (18 rushing, 37 passing), while the Giants had just 30 (18 rushing, 12 passing). The Vikings converted three of five third-down opportunities, while the Giants were 0-for-2.
Peterson was held completely in check in the first quarter, rushing seven times for just eight yards. Chester Taylor led the team in rushing with 10 yards on three carries. Jackson completed four of seven passes for 50 yards – to four different receivers.
Ward did all the rushing for the Giants, running three times for 18 yards. Manning completed three of five passes for 17 yards, two of them to seldom-used fullback Madison Hedgecock.
Peterson's fumbling problems continued. Late in the first quarter on a third-and-1 play, Peterson coughed up the ball, but Birk made the recovery to keep the Vikings' drive alive, as well as retaining possession in their own territory.
On his fourth carry of the game, Peterson became just the fifth player in NFL history to top 3,000 yards for his career.
On the first defensive series, Ben Leber recorded his sixth sack of the season, a new franchise record for Vikings linebackers in a single season.
The game got off to pretty dismal start following a 37-yard kickoff return by Maurice Hicks – his longest return of the season. After gaining just one yard on his first carry, Peterson was tripped by Jackson on his second carry, losing four yards and forcing the Vikings into a three-and-out.
As a franchise decision, the Vikings opted not to put the score of the Bears-Texans game on the Jumbotron at the Metrodome. Had the Vikings lost, they would have needed Chicago to lose to the Texans to get into the playoffs.
The paid attendance was 63,761 – the 114th straight sellout at the Metrodome.