Childress' message: Beat the defending champs

With a 10-1 record, Brad Childress has been effective in getting his team ready for games this year. His message this week recalls the team's only loss this season.

The message from Brad Childress this week is clear: The Vikings are playing a defending conference champion at their stadium and the last time the Vikings did that they lost.

The Vikings went into Heinz Field on Oct. 25 and suffered their only loss of the season, 27-17 to the defending AFC Champion Pittsburgh Steelers. On Sunday night, the Vikings travel to University of Phoenix Stadium to play the defending NFC Champions Arizona Cardinals.

"They are the champions until someone unseats them," Childress said Wednesday, setting the stage for his message. "We have one experience that's akin to that so far this year. We went on the road and played the AFC champions, who are the Super Bowl champions, and we didn't do so well. That's a hostile environment down there (in Arizona), so we just have to be about our business heading down on a three-hour trip to the West Coast. (The Cardinals are) a physically talented team."

The Cardinals are 7-4 and have a two-game lead in the NFC West, but after a rough start they seem to finding their groove, winning six of the last eight games. Ironically, the Cardinals have started to find a winning formula on the road but are only 2-3 at home this season.

The Vikings' snowbird fan base tends to travel well to Arizona and Childress certainly gave them encouragement to continue with that.

"There is no downside to it if they (Vikings fans) want to fill the place up. If people want to scalp their tickets and make a mortgage payment and give them to somebody in purple, I would be tickled to death to have them there," Childress said.

Actually, the Cardinals were looking for any way to fill their stadium. They didn't sell out the game until Thursday, but by doing so then they were able to avoid a blackout on local television. Being a prime time game Sunday night, the Phoenix area would have been the only location in the country not seeing the game on NBC.

But while fans that follow the Vikings down to Arizona could be looking for a little sun, rest and relaxation, Childress' message continued to his players. "We'll have our hands full heading down to Phoenix, and, like I said, the only thing that is similar here is that one is an NFC champion, one is an AFC champion and we went on the road and didn't have a great measure of success against the folks on our East Coast tour," he said.

But the fact of the matter is that the Vikings have had recent success against the Cardinals. Childress is 2-0 against Arizona and the Vikings have won seven of the last eight games between the two teams, including a 35-14 meeting last year before the Cardinals got into the playoff-winning ways.


  • No one for the Vikings is listed as out or doubtful for Sunday night's game. G Anthony Herrera (concussion), TE Visanthe Shiancoe (ribs), RB Chester Taylor (ribs) and CB Antoine Winfield (foot) are questionable. G Steve Hutchinson (shoulder), CB Benny Sapp (thumb/ribs), WR Bernard Berrian (hamstring), S Eric Frampton (concussion), T Bryant McKinnie (back), RB Adrian Peterson (ankle) and FB Naufahu Tahi (ankle) are all probable.

  • For the Cardinals, RB Tim Hightower (thumb), CB Bryant McFadden (knee), DE Kenny Iwebema (thumb), K Neil Rackers (groin), LB Karlos Dansby (shoulder) and QB Kurt Warner (head) are questionable. LB Will Davis (knee) is out. TE Stephen Spach (knee) and T Mike Gandy (pelvis) are doubtful.

  • According to the NFL, November 2009 was the first calendar month in which Brett Favre did not throw an interception. He was named NFC Offensive Player of the Month for his performance.

  • Favre on missing training camp this year with the Vikings: "Being a coach's son, I always prided myself on being out there every snap, whether it be practice, games, whether you like it or not, to be there. Had my arm felt better and I decided to play, I would have been there the first day of camp. I'm as surprised as anyone showing up late."

  • In the last three games, Percy Harvin has had only three kickoff returns. Part of that is the Vikings defense holding the last three opponents to a combined 29 points, thereby limiting Harvin's opportunities. But another reason is that opposing teams have made more of an attempt to either get touchbacks or even kick it short to not allow Harvin a chance to field the ball.

    "We've had a stretch here where we've had kickers that have touchback ability. We really haven't had a lot of opportunities in a while, just by virtue you get a mortar here, a mortar there, finish the half squib and a couple in the end zone," said special teams coach Brian Murphy.

  • The San Diego Chargers released former Vikings linebacker Jeremy (J.) Leman from their practice squad. Leman spent time with the Vikings in the 2008 offseason as an undrafted free agent, then with Carolina, Philadelphia and San Diego this year.

  • The Indianapolis Colts signed former Vikings offensive tackle Drew Radovich to their practice squad. The Vikings released Radovich before this season.

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