Defensive end Jared Allen had a good answer prepared when asked if the Vikings can win four straight to finish 10-6, which is what they most likely have to do to make the playoffs.
"Anybody can," he said.
"Heck, look at Arizona," he said. "They were 4-0 at the start of the year."
Now, they're 4-8.
Although it's not mathematically estabilished that a 9-7 team wouldn't make the playoffs in the NFC, the Vikings (6-6) are wisely assuming that it's not going to happen.
"It's not desperation," Allen said. "It's a sense of urgency. We know what the deal is. We've talked every week that it's not a must win, but these are must-win games now. We've let a couple slip through our hands and you can't do that. You never know what game is going to come back and bite you at the end of the year. We've won three straight. Now we got to run off four straight. There are a lot of teams that are in the same boat."
Here are some other highlights from Allen's interview with reporters today:
- On the torn labrum in his shoulder, the back spasm and all the other aches and pains of being a 30-year-old in the NFL: "Honestly, you play through things every year. For me, I've never had this much on me in one year. But we have a great training staff here. Our coaching staff does a good job of resting me when I need it. And come Sunday I'm always 100 percent on Sunday, no matter what the issue is. ... My groin was hurt twice this year. My back locked up. My neck locked up." Allen didn't practice Wednesday because of his back spasms, but will play on Sunday.
- On whether he expects "payback" from the Bears for delivering the block that caused the season-ending knee injury for Bears guard Lance Louis two weeks ago. Allen was fined $21,000 for the hit for leaving his feet to administer the shot to Louis' chest during an interception return: "No. They could have [gotten revenge] in that game. People want to build it up more than what it was. We had an interception and I threw a block. I don't know how many times I got to say my condolences for him getting hurt. Not my intention. I hit him in the chest. I didn't know that his knee was going to buckle.
- On Bears QB Jay Cutler defending Allen and saying he's not a dirty player:"My track record speaks for itself. And that's what you hope. You hope your reputation is bigger than one play. People want to hype something up. And they're [upset] that they lost a guy. I'm sure we would be too if we lost a guy. But I always revert it to if the roles were reversed and there was a running back coming up the sideline and a receiver or someone cleaned by clock out and hit me and I got hurt, they're not going to feel sympathy for me. And my intent is never to hurt anybody. All I try to do is play good, hard football. So, yeah, to hear guys like Jay say that, it speaks to the years that I've been playing this game and I try to play it the right way. If my peers recognize it, that's the best respect that I can get."
- On the Vikings' improved secondary play this season: "Our secondary is playing much better that it was a year ago, two years ago. I refer back to the play in Green Bay last week. They run a double pass and we end up getting an interception. [The receiver] is double covered the whole way. I remember the same type of flea-flicker a couple years back that went like 70 yards for a touchdown. So guys are playing good. We just need to be more consistent."
- On playing without receiver Percy Harvin, who was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday: "It's something you deal with. You deal with injuries and guys going down. The last few years, we've lost good key players to injuries. We lost Antoine [Winfield] a couple years in a row. We lost [Steve Hutchinson] a couple years. Brett [Favre] goes down. Now, Percy is down. We lost Adrian [Peterson] at the end of last year. It's football, man. It's a violent game. People get hurt. It's a physical game and no matter how many rules changes they have to try and keep it from happening, it's going to happen. Whoever is backing up Percy has to take that as an opportunity to now make a name for yourself."