Notebook: Successful season? Players react

Jared Allen (Joe Robbins/Getty)

The Vikings exceeded most expectations for the season, but the established veterans were far from satisfied after the wild card loss. Plus, the Vikings got away from their first-series success in hopes they could establish a passing attack.

The Minnesota Vikings were coming off a 3-13 season in 2011 with few outside expectations placed on them. Las Vegas generally had them pegged at 5½ wins for the over-under prior to the 2012 season, but despite exceeding outside expectations there was a feeling of disappointment after a 10-6 season that ended with a one-and-done playoff run.

For veteran Jared Allen, just making the playoffs wasn't enough. He's been there and made it to the NFC Championship Game in 2009, but anything short of the Super Bowl was a disappointment to him.

"It is not okay to just show up. Just getting here isn't what we are about in Minnesota. We are about winning championships," Allen said. "You can ask anyone in the league — you want to win. It is all about getting a Super Bowl ring. I think we needed to have a higher sense of urgency because you never know when you are going to come back (to the playoffs). We had a little setback with Christian (Ponder), but you have to seize the opportunity against a team that you know so well."

The Vikings weren't favored to beat the Green Bay Packer in Lambeau Field, but point spread increased when Ponder briefly showed up on the field before the game and not looking like he could do much. The spread increased even further when the starting quarterback for the 16 regular-season games was made inactive, relegating the job to Joe Webb.

The Vikings still had Adrian Peterson, who had run for 409 yards in the previous two games against the Packers, but even that wasn't enough. With a limited passing game, Green Bay's defense found more success against Peterson, who was limited to 99 yards rushing.

Like Allen, Peterson also had great postseason expectations.

"It's never a success when you don't win a Super Bowl. But I love the chemistry that we have here and I feel like we can come back and go all the way," Peterson said.

PETERSON HELD IN CHECK

Peterson looked like he might have a repeat performance against the Packers when he rushed for 33 yards on the first series in five carries and Webb added 20 yards on three carries. However, after eight runs to start the game, Webb's first pass fell woefully incomplete and the Vikings had to settle for a field goal.

"We had something going. We were able to establish the run game. We had to a get a seven instead of a three. That kind of hurt us," Peterson said. "We got down there again and weren't able to execute. They were able to jump on top of us."

But after getting a quick 3-0 lead, the Vikings' lead evaporated by the end of the first quarter and they never regained it.

By the end of the game, the Packers had limited Peterson to 4.5 yards per rush on 22 carries. Webb's effectiveness was also decreased after that initial drive.

"We mixed some of those read-options along the way. But at some point you would like to complete some passes. Early on we did have them off-balance and had some opportunities in the passing game, but we just couldn't connect," Frazier said.

The most success the Vikings had when the game was still in the balance was that first drive when they didn't worry about a balanced attack. When Webb's erratic passing led to him completing only 3 of 12 passes for 22 yards in the first half and there wasn't much reason for the Packers to take their focus off Peterson.

"Schematically I don't think we did much differently than last week. We obviously made a few adjustments based on what they showed us last week and the success they had. Ultimately, the effort was there last week, our intensity … we just played a little more disciplined," Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews said.

"We wanted to win. I think that goes beyond pride, especially with the two 200-yard games he put together against us, there was absolutely something to prove."

The Packers were reminded throughout the week of Peterson's success against them and were adamant they would do better in the playoffs at Lambeau Field. Ultimately, they did.

"Everybody took care of their responsibilities, played their gaps and didn't let him get outside," Packers cornerback Sam Shields said. "Peterson, he can run, he can get outside, and our thing was to not let him get outside."

NOTES

  • The Vikings completed just 11 passes, the fewest given up by Green Bay in a playoff game since it allowed seven completions at Washington on Dec. 24, 1972.

  • Matthews matched his postseason career high (at Atlanta, Jan. 15, 2011) with two sacks as he joined former DE Reggie White as the only players in Green Bay playoff history to register two-plus sacks in two games.

  • The temperature at kickoff was 29 degrees with a wind of 9 miles per hour.

  • WR Michael Jenkins, RB Adrian Peterson and DE Jared Allen were the Vikings captains for the game.

  • Adrian to NFL Network on what he would say to Eric Dickerson after falling short of his single-season rushing record by nine yards: "Enjoy this last year, because the record is going down, with ease."

  • Saturday's game was the first meeting in the history of the Vikings-Packers series where both teams entered the game with 10-plus victories.

  • The Packers now have a 5-1 record when playing a divisional opponent in the postseason. The only loss came to the Vikings following the 2004 season.

  • Over the last 19 seasons (1994-2012), the Packers (nine) and the Vikings (five) have accounted for 14 NFC Central/North Championships.

  • Entering the playoffs, Rodgers ranked No. 1 in NFL postseason history with a career passer rating of 105.5. He has posted a 110-plus rating in four of his six playoff starts. He had a 104.9 rating against the Vikings on Saturday.


    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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