Many of the young faces around the Vikings locker room are still new to the rivalry with Green Bay. Rookie wide receiver Stefon Diggs said Monday he hasn’t heard much about it, and first-year defensive end Danielle Hunter couldn’t say much about it.
To them, Sunday’s home matchup with the Packers is just another important division game.
“Everybody is young across the league, so the game has changed so much over the last 10 years and these rivalry games for players are a little bit different than maybe they are for the fans,” veteran linebacker Chad Greenway said. “If you’ve been a fan of the Minnesota Vikings for 25-30 years, this rivalry probably means a lot more to you than Danielle Hunter, who has been in Minnesota for six months. That’s just the reality.
“To a lot of these guys, it’s about coming in and doing your job and you’re just playing against another guy in another jersey. For me, being here 10 years, it means a lot more to me than it does a lot of these guys. It just depends on where you’re at [in your career].”
By the time the Vikings boarded the bus after Sunday’s 30-14 win at Oakland, they were finished celebrating the victory.
That victory put them atop the NFC North standings at 7-2, but veteran defensive end Brian Robison helped keep the team looking ahead.
“We were talking on the bus [about how] a lot of teams in the past would have been happy with the win, but we’re already talking about Green Bay,” Robison said. “It’s pretty much the same with this team week in and week out. When we win a ballgame, so what? We’re on to the next one.
“We’re not dwelling on the fact that we won the road or we won the West Coast and all those things.”
By Week 10 a year ago, the Vikings were 4-5 and had lost two games by six points or fewer. They would lose four of their final seven games by eight points or fewer.
Moving on or closing out games hasn’t been an issue for the Vikings this season.
“Everyone is just one heartbeat right now,” defensive tackle Linval Joseph said. “To win all these close games in the fourth quarter means a lot ’cause last year they didn’t go that way for us.”
The Vikings totaled just 140 passing yards Sunday at Oakland and 144 a week earlier against St. Louis, but Diggs is OK with those numbers as long as the receivers continue to play an important role in the Vikings’ run game.
“We play a key part [in the run],” Diggs said. “Being a receiver isn’t all about catching the balls and all the glitter and the shine. You have to do some dirty work and make some key blocks, especially when you have a running back like we have. It will definitely turn 10-yard gains into touchdowns when you have those blocks on the back end.”
Diggs, Cordarrelle Patterson and Adam Thielen had runs of 10, 14 and 6 yards, respectively.
“We’ve got some talented guys that can run with the ball,” Diggs said. “You see Cordarrelle had a good run and Adam Thielen had a good run. I thought he was going to score. … We have a lot of playmakers on this team.”
Linebacker Anthony Barr played 57 snaps, 89 percent of the defensive plays, Sunday despite nursing an injured left hand. He was listed as questionable but made six tackles and broke up one pass against Oakland.
“It was bothering him some,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “He sucked it up in this ballgame, and the last two ballgames actually. … I think he feels more comfortable with it. I think he has a lot more confidence in the things he can do. He was playing a little bit one-handed.”