Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Allen: `These are must-win games now'

Posted by: Mark Craig under Vikings, Bears, NFC, Jared Allen, Percy Harvin, Steve Hutchinson Updated: December 6, 2012 - 1:19 PM

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.

Anybody?

Yep.

"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."

 

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Baltimore 2 FINAL
Detroit 15
NY Yankees 5 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Northeastern 1 FINAL
Boston 2
Miami-Fla 1 FINAL
Miami 7
Pittsburgh 8 FINAL
Toronto 7
San Francisco 4 FINAL
Oakland 9
Cleveland 0 FINAL
Cincinnati 10
Boston College 0 FINAL
Boston 1
Arizona State 0 FINAL
Arizona 4
Boston 79 FINAL
Cleveland 110
LA Lakers 103 FINAL
Charlotte 104
Sacramento 124 FINAL
New York 86
Houston 96 FINAL
Atlanta 104
Utah 93 FINAL
Memphis 82
Washington 92 FINAL
Chicago 97
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
Denver 106
Nashville 1 FINAL
New Jersey 3
Calgary 3 FINAL(OT)
Philadelphia 2
Washington 5 FINAL
Columbus 3
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Toronto 3 FINAL
Florida 2
Ottawa 2 FINAL(SO)
Minnesota 3
NY Islanders 2 FINAL(OT)
Dallas 3
Anaheim 4 FINAL
Arizona 1
Los Angeles 5 FINAL
Edmonton 2
San Jose 6 FINAL
Vancouver 2
Ole Miss 82 FINAL
Alabama 74
Eastern Mich 67 FINAL
Ball State 60
Kent State 81 FINAL
Bowling Green 80
Ohio 66 FINAL
Buffalo 93
Georgetown 60 FINAL
Butler 54
Toledo 77 FINAL
Central Mich 85
Rhode Island 59 FINAL
Dayton 75
Youngstown St 67 FINAL
Detroit 77
North Carolina 81 FINAL
Georgia Tech 49
Loyola-Maryland 45 FINAL
Holy Cross 62
Iowa 77 FINAL
Indiana 63
Akron 63 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 70
Army 52 FINAL
Navy 56
Maryland 60 FINAL
Rutgers 50
Kennesaw St 54 FINAL
USC Upstate 90
Jacksonville 63 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 81
Lipscomb 76 FINAL
Northern Ky 73
Stetson 67 FINAL
North Florida 81
Wright State 57 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 60
Western Mich 63 FINAL
Northern Ill 65
Nebraska Omaha 80 FINAL
North Dakota 78
Houston Baptist 71 FINAL
Abilene Christian 83
NC State 66 FINAL
Clemson 61
Texas A&M 62 FINAL
Florida 66
Kentucky 72 FINAL
Georgia 64
West Virginia 69 FINAL
Kansas 76
Auburn 61 FINAL
Missouri 63
Michigan 78 FINAL
Northwestern 82
Villanova 76 FINAL
Creighton 72
Longwood 55 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 63
Charleston Southern 39 FINAL
Presbyterian 47
Coastal Carolina 54 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 68
NJIT 51 FINAL
UMass Lowell 60
West Virginia 55 FINAL
Kansas State 59
TCU 45 FINAL
Texas 79
Fresno State 61 FINAL
Air Force 41
San Jose St 76 FINAL
Boise State 91
Nevada 61 FINAL
Colorado State 68
UNLV 61 FINAL
San Diego State 76
Wyoming 61 FINAL
Utah State 57
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

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