Vikings out to prove Sunday night prowess

Visanthe Shiancoe (Tom Dahlin/Viking Update)

The Vikings had arguably their worst performance of the year two weeks ago when they played on a nationally televised Sunday night game. This time, they want to prove to that football audience they are among the elite teams.

As the Vikings take off today for Charlotte, the memory of their last road trip hasn't been lost. Playing on a Sunday night two weeks ago, the Vikings went into Arizona at 10-1, on a high note and still looking at potentially battle for the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. What followed was nothing short of a debacle. Arizona pounded the Vikings 30-17 and suddenly they looked vulnerable.

The Vikings took that to heart and rebounded last week with a resounding win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Jared Allen said following the Arizona game that he wouldn't want to be the Bengals because they were going to feel the wrath of what the Vikings had gone through in Arizona. Clearly, they did.

So what was the difference between such a hideous game at Arizona and a beatdown of the Bengals? Getting back to basics. Guard Anthony Herrera said that loss at Arizona got everyone upset, because that wasn't Vikings football. What they needed, he said, was to get back to doing what they have done so well since August.

"Everybody knows what happened the last time we were on the road," Herrera said. "We're not worried about it. In football, anytime stuff goes wrong, your coaches will tell you to go back to your fundamentals. That holds true whether you're a player or a coach. We went back to training camp plays and we saw what happened last Sunday."

The anger that followed the loss to the Cardinals got everyone refocused on what needed to be done. Sometimes keeping things simple is the best approach, even in a complex game like professional football.

"We just had to get back to the basics," tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said. "That game against the Cardinals pretty much upset us. We didn't play our best game down there. We all know that. We left a lot of plays on the field and didn't put forth our best effort. They beat us. Our vets had to buckle back down, get our mind back right and individually find out what you need to do – gut check a little bit. There was no need to panic. We went back to the basics and you saw what the end result was. Maybe we have to do that every week."

As the Vikings make their road return to prime-time television, they do so with the memory of the Cardinals debacle still fresh in their minds. If they needed any motivation to put their best foot forward, that poor performance in the national spotlight may provide all the incentive they need.

"We learned from that experience and hopefully it will make us a better team," linebacker Ben Leber said. "It was a humbling experience and something we're going to work hard to make sure we don't repeat."

SATURDAY NOTES

  • CB Cedric Griffin was fined $10,000 for a hit he put on Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco last Sunday. When quarterback Carson Palmer fired a third-down pass to Ochocinco, Griffin turned around and launched himself at Ochocinco, who was in the air. Griffin's hand struck the receiver's helmet and the ball fell incomplete, but Griffin was flagged for unnecessary roughness and Ochocinco later tweeted that his nose was swollen from the hit but not broken.

  • Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe was fined $5,000 for head-butting the helmet of Bengals cornerback Johnathan Joseph, who was also fined $5,000 for taunting Shiancoe on the play.

  • Defensive tackle Kevin Williams also drew a $5,000 fine for hitting Palmer out of bounds.


    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
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