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Vikings open doors, br-r-ring cold inside for taste of Lambeau

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER
  • Star Tribune
  • January 1, 2013 - 9:04 PM

Leslie Frazier never really was considering an outdoor practice Tuesday as the Vikings prepare for Saturday's wild-card playoff game against the Packers at Lambeau Field. For one thing, the practice fields at Winter Park remain covered by snow.

But even if the Vikings coach had even a small thought of heading outdoors, that idea was killed permanently when he arrived at Winter Park on New Year's Day.

"It was minus-10," Frazier said. "Any thoughts I had about us going out there were kind of removed when I got out of my car."

So the Vikings practiced inside, opening the giant sliding garage doors on their field house to let the freeze in.

'I'm an idiot'

Thanks to a season-best 444 yards from the offense Sunday, the Vikings earned a playoff spot by winning a shootout over Green Bay 37-34.

But the Vikings defense allowed 286 yards and 24 points after halftime, unable to disrupt Aaron Rodgers' rhythm much at all.

Green Bay opened the second half with an 80-yard touchdown drive and Greg Jennings provided an uncovered 5-yard scoring reception. Linebacker Erin Henderson accepted full blame for the defensive breakdown on that play, allowing Jennings to race into the end zone uncovered with no defender within 20 yards of him.

"I'm an idiot," Henderson said. "That's pretty much what it was."

The more complex explanation is that Henderson bit on the play-action fake by Rodgers, worried that running back DuJuan Harris was getting the ball and cutting back through the gap that Henderson was supposed to control.

"My eyes were too big," Henderson said. "I was trying to do too much. ... If the ball would have cut back I would have had to make that tackle. But my eyes just got too big."

The Packers' biggest play of the day came two possessions later, a 73-yard Rodgers pass to Jordy Nelson, with the Green Bay receiver streaking past nickelback Marcus Sherels.

Injury report

Four players -- running back Adrian Peterson, cornerback Antoine Winfield, safety Harrison Smith and special teamer Tyrone McKenzie -- missed practice entirely Tuesday. The week's first official injury report will be issued Wednesday.

Winfield (broken right hand) has the most significant injury. He tried to play Sunday against the Packers and aggravated the injury.

McKenzie had his left arm in a sling Tuesday. He was hurt against Green Bay but was on the field when Jeremy Ross busted off a 44-yard return at the start of the second quarter. Ross' burst to the Green Bay 43 marked the first time since Week 5 that the Vikings had allowed a kickoff return past the 25.

Peterson has been rested at practices the past couple of weeks. Smith injured his right shoulder Sunday.

Back in postseason

The Vikings haven't been in a playoff game since the NFC Championship Game loss to New Orleans on Jan. 24, 2010. Only 13 players who participated in that game remain on the active roster.

But it's actually left guard Charlie Johnson who has the most playoff experience of any player on this year's team.

Johnson will be playing his 11th playoff game Saturday in Green Bay. He went to the playoffs in all five of his seasons in Indianapolis and played in Super Bowls XLI and XLIV with the Colts.

Johnson has played on teams that were favored and expected to reach the Super Bowl. Now he's enjoying a different path as part of this year's surprise underdog story.

"It gives you hope for us to win four straight and to get that momentum and then to get into the playoffs," he said. "Once you get in, anything can happen. It's been done before. There's a precedent set for teams like this getting on a roll."

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