Vikings to enjoy ‘huge' weekend off

The Vikings managed a first-round bye after all, and it will be a welcome sight for veterans on the mend. After a week off, they will hope to return a rhythm they found over the last six quarters of regulation.

The Vikings locked up the second seed in the NFC playoffs and the first-round bye that goes with it Sunday by cruising to a 44-7 victory over the New York Giants in their regular-season finale at the Metrodome and having Dallas beat Philadelphia.

Minnesota will now get some valuable rest for a group of veteran players that includes 40-year-old quarterback Brett Favre.

"I assume like everyone else that it would be good, not only for me, but for the rest of our team," Favre said. "You know, bye week, get a chance to get away from it. Physically, kind of get back on track, get a little bit better all those things. ... The good thing was we got a little confidence back, a little swagger, a little momentum and that's all we can focus on."

Kicker Ryan Longwell said the weekend off will be "huge," for the team.

"Guys that are nicked up, banged up, can rest and get healthy and the long and short of it is you're one game away from the championship game," Longwell said. "It's just such a huge advantage to have the week (off) and know that you are guaranteed the one game at home to get within a shot. It's very exciting."

Having a bye and then a home game will be important for the Vikings based on how they have performed at the Metrodome this season. Minnesota went 8-0 at home for the first time since 1998 but was only 4-4 on the road. That includes three road losses in the month of December at Arizona, Carolina and Chicago.

"I wish that was a question we didn't have to answer," Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway said of being part of a team that was so much better at home than on the road. "But that's something that's a reality right now, the way we played on the road the last three and the way we played at home, too. We'll see what happens. But for now we know we're going to be home playing so we hope to take advantage of that."

The Vikings certainly will be able to do so if their offense continues to operate with the efficiency that it did Dec. 28 in the second half and then again against the Giants.

Favre, who reportedly didn't see eye-to-eye with coach Brad Childress last month when it came to play calling, has been brilliant in his past five-plus quarters. In that time, Favre completed 46 of 62 passes for 601 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions.

"It would appear that we picked up right where we left off (in Chicago)," said Favre, who came out of the Giants game in the third quarter with the Vikings ahead 41-0. "I thought that what we did at the start of the game today was what we needed to do. I think it's proof of what we are capable of doing. For whatever reason we have been inconsistent at times. I think there were 20 first downs in the first half (Sunday) and 22 in the second half of last week's game. That's 42 first downs in a game or so. Not that you would expect that all of the time, but that's what we are capable of doing."

LINEUP WATCH: Rookie Jamarca Sanford saw time at strong safety Sunday in place of Tyrell Johnson. Sanford, a seventh-round pick last April, started on Dec. 13 against Cincinnati because Johnson missed that game due to a concussion. Johnson has struggled at times this season and the fact Sanford got some reps starting in the third defensive series of the game was not a surprise. Johnson was not hurt this time. Childress did downplay any talk of Johnson losing the starting job but that certainly has to be considered a possibility.

BY THE NUMBERS: 285 — Career regular-season starts for Brett Favre after Sunday, giving him the NFL record. Former San Francisco wide receiver Jerry Rice started 284 games from 1985-2004.


  • QB Tarvaris Jackson replaced Brett Favre in a game for the eighth time this season because the Vikings had such a big lead. Jackson entered the game in the third quarter with the Vikings leading 41-0.

  • DT Jimmy Kennedy did not play Sunday because of a thumb injury and it's not certain when he will return.

  • RB Adrian Peterson carried only nine times Sunday for 54 yards and now has gone seven games in a row without a 100-yard rushing performance. The nine carries tied his career-low and he did not touch the ball on the Vikings' opening two series.

  • NT Pat Williams returned after missing a game because of an elbow injury. The Vikings were able to rest Williams for much of the second half because of their comfortable lead.

  • CB Antoine Winfield was used for 15 to 20 plays Sunday as the inside corner in the Vikings' nickel defense. The move was made to give Winfield an opportunity to rest his sore right foot. Winfield struggled in losses at Carolina and Chicago as he started at left corner and played much of the game. Clearly his foot is not at 100 percent yet. Benny Sapp started at left corner for Winfield.

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