Vikings defensive end Jared Allen faced a barrage of questions Thursday, many of them dealing with the massive block he put on Bears guard Lance Louis last weekend.
That hit, which came during a 31-yard third-quarter interception return by Antoine Winfield, had quite the ripple effect. Most significantly, it tore Louis' left anterior cruciate ligament, ending his season.
For Allen, the block resulted in a $21,000 fine for an illegal blindside hit.
Given a chance to review the play, which didn't draw a flag, Allen doesn't second-guess launching into Louis. On Thursday, he again apologized to Louis and his family for the injury.
But he stopped short of admitting any wrongdoing.
"I mean it happens," he said. "This game is violent."
Allen has been outspoken in the past about the protection he feels offensive players receive from the league that defensive players are not equally afforded. But he was also asked Thursday if he'd be angry or disconsolate if the tables were turned and his season was ended by a blindside block.
"I've had that," Allen responded. "I've been on the other side of that. I got my knee knifed in Detroit a few years ago [by Lions tackle Gosder Cherlius]. The league didn't find anything wrong with that. ... Things in this game happen. And we know that when we sign up for it. So yeah, you're not happy about it. But you go forward."
As for a potential appeal of the fine, Allen didn't anticipate much wiggle room.
"At this point," he said, "I have to focus on Green Bay."
OK, so on to that ...
As the Vikings prepare for Sunday's game at Lambeau Field, they understand Allen's ability to create pressure up front will be a major X-factor.
"We need him to a have a big game for us," coach Leslie Frazier said. "He's a guy who still garners so much attention when he's on the field. But it'd be great to see him have one of those two- or three-sack games."
In one-on-one situations, Allen should again have a favorable matchup against Packers left tackle Marshall Newhouse. His most explosive game came against Newhouse in 2009, a 4 1/2-sack effort that fueled a 30-23 win.
But Allen is also in the middle of a rare sack drought, his last takedown coming against Tampa Bay -- five weeks ago.
Last weekend, it seemed as if the stage could be set for Allen to continually harass Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. Chicago's offensive line was in disarray with two new starters and had allowed 5 1/2 sacks a week earlier to San Francisco's Aldon Smith.
But the Bears altered their approach, used tight ends and running backs to aid the protection and also called a high volume of short, quick passes.
On Cutler's 36 dropbacks, tackle J'Marcus Webb had help blocking Allen 24 times.
The closest Allen came to a sack was in the second quarter when he knifed past tight end Kellen Davis to put the heat on. But he was a split-second late, and by the time he hit Cutler, the quarterback had fired a bullet through a tight window, hitting Matt Spaeth for a 13-yard touchdown.
Allen realizes Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers can be just as slippery.
"They're tricky," he said. "Because their pocket presence is so good, and they can make any throw outside the pocket from whatever body position they're in."
Still, getting to Rodgers will be a prerequisite for success. In Green Bay's four losses, Rodgers has been sacked 21 times. In the Packers' seven victories, he's gone down only 16 times.
Last week, the Giants sacked Rodgers five times, four coming with just a four-man rush. New York's big early lead didn't hurt.
Said Allen: "If we can get a lead and force them to play from behind and force them to take shots down the field by being successful on first and second down, then you create some matchup problems. If not, it's going to be a tough road."