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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Vikings hope recent lessons learned serve them well in rematch vs. Packers

By Andrew Krammer

MINNEAPOLIS — Since arriving in Minnesota, Mike Zimmer has worked to instill an old-school, no-frills style throughout his coaches and players. The ‘next man up’ mantra reverberates off walls that anchor signs about tough teams and fourth quarters.

So perhaps it’s not surprising Zimmer has liked the ‘change’ he’s witnessed in his team’s approach since they were twice thrashed, at the friendly confines of TCF Bank Stadium, by the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks, two of three possibilities for their first-round playoff matchup.

Since the Dec. 6 loss to Seattle, when the Vikings entered without Linval Joseph and quickly lost Anthony Barr and Harrison Smith, their defensive depth has been thoroughly tested. Four days later, the Vikings flexed their depth, recommitted to Adrian Peterson and had their first worthy showing on national television under Zimmer in the 23-20 road loss vs. the 2-seeded Cardinals.

“I think the mentality of our team has changed a little bit, and for the better in my opinion,” Zimmer said from the podium on Monday. “I keep talking to them about it, ‘This is the type of mentality that we have to have going forward.’ And really the Arizona game, I think we had the right mentality. Going forward from that game on, we’ve played with the mentality that I like to play with.”

Now they hope the recent lessons learned serve them well as they play for the NFC North on Sunday night at Lambeau Field. Zimmer declined to elaborate on the changes he’s observed, but some tweaks are clear.

They’ve ‘performed under pressure,’ which was pointed out Monday as a critical element, by taking the Cardinals to the ropes and throttling the New York Giants.

They’ve recommitted to Peterson, restoring good will with an average of 21 carries over the last three games despite frustrating results, two blowout wins and a sprained ankle.

And at Lambeau Field on Sunday night, they’ll need a healthy mixture of both with whatever magic mustered from an adjusted approach. Throughout his second season, Zimmer has propped up outside doubts in front of his players, and they’ve whacked most of them down like arcade moles. They’re winners in the division. They won at Chicago. They’re guaranteed to finish a temporary home stay with a winning record. Against the Giants, they finally won in prime-time. But the biggest mole remains.

The Vikings are 1-10-1 against the Packers since 2009 and they have one win at Lambeau Field over the last decade.

“We thought we were in a good position to take them down earlier in the season at our place. We just made way too many mistakes and played uncharacteristic,” linebacker Chad Greenway said. “Obviously we really want the division. We know it goes through the Packers and they play so well at their place.

“It’s going to take our best football game of the year. The game got flexed to Sunday night so it’s going to give us another opportunity to learn how to win in this situation like we did [vs. New York].”

The post Vikings hope recent lessons learned serve them well in rematch vs. Packers appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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