McKinnie, O-line hold up just fine

Bryant McKinnie heard plenty of talk and fielded numerous questions last week about how he would fare Sunday against the Dallas defense. His best answer came with his play on the field, but he and right tackle Phil Loadholt talk about standing up to the challenge.

Bryant McKinnie heard the tone of the talk all last week. He understood there was a perception from the outside that he might struggle against Dallas pass-rushing defenders like DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer.

McKinnie's performance Sunday in a 34-3 win against the Cowboys allowed him to stand tall – with him that's really tall – after the game.

"I just felt like there was a lot more talk about me being careful of Ware and he was going to be the person that changed the game – him and Spencer," McKinnie said. "Being in college, that's how I got drafted, being an underdog, so being an underdog isn't new to me. I don't fold under pressure so I was good."

He didn't Sunday. Ware and Spencer, the Cowboys' two outside linebackers who are often brought on blitzes, each had one sack. Ware's sack came when he went unblocked from the right side of the Vikings offense.

Vikings coach Brad Childress said that was a miscommunication on the line, but Childress also used the buildup of the Cowboys in the national media to his advantage.

"The Tasmanian Devils … were coming from Dallas that were about to bombard the state of Minnesota and run through us like Sherman through the South," Childress said. "That was the aura that was left after last weekend's games. All of us kind of felt that quite palpably. All of it, and then we had about enough of it come Tuesday, they did a great job with that. It's hard to get guys like this to stifle themselves."

McKinnie especially was under the spotlight after he struggled against another premier pass-rushing defender in Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers in December.

"Both lines, offense and defense, felt like it was going to be won in the trenches. Everybody talked about their O-line and D-line and how it was a mismatch almost," McKinnie said. "I feel like people took offense to that and went out there and played at a high level."

McKinnie said he was trying to alter his stance in the Carolina game and decided to forget about making changes for now and just block how he's most comfortable.

He also said he came into Sunday's contest with a game plan for blocking Ware, who was lined up across from McKinnie most of the time.

"I had already played the game mentally in my head a few times and some of the moves that he likes to do. Just to be able to react fast and just to visualize yourself doing it already."

Loadholt, a rookie second-round pick playing right tackle, said it was easy to focus on this game with it being the postseason.

"It was for something. Obviously every game means a lot, but with the playoffs, just like every other level – whether it be high school, everything – playoffs mean a little bit more to everybody," Loadholt said. "A little harder, a little faster, a little more physical."

That basically described the play of the Vikings linemen, as they earned another chance in the NFC Championship Game.

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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