Try telling linebacker Anthony Barr that Sunday's 31-17 victory over the Bears lacked meaning, as the afternoon may have marked the former Pro Bowl player's 98th and final regular-season game in a Vikings uniform.
Barr is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in March, a position he negotiated last year when the Vikings came asking for him to take a pay cut for salary cap relief. That set up a possible last run with the organization that drafted him ninth overall in 2014.
That run could be over without a playoff appearance this season, making a "bittersweet" finale for Barr. He is already bracing for his Vikings career to be done, but he is also relieved to be feeling healthy and playing well again.
"I'm an emotional person; I'm a Pisces," Barr said from a podium outside the Vikings locker room. "I'm emotional by nature. I'm a water sign, so, yeah, I'm emotional, but like I said, keep everything in perspective. It's not the end of the world. The sun is going to come up tomorrow. We are all going to be OK, so, it's bittersweet."
Barr, who had two sacks on Bears quarterback Andy Dalton, revealed after the game that he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee at the end of August — weeks after initially suffering the knee injury in training camp. He had "some complications" in recovery, prolonging the four-week prognosis and didn't play until Oct. 10 against the Lions.
He feels like he has ended on a high note, credited with 40 combined tackles, including a team-high 11 tackles against the Bears, with two sacks, two interceptions and a fumble recovery in the past five games.
"I've kind of felt like myself," Barr said. "I've been playing at a high level, and I think a lot of that has to do with being healthy, being able to run around, fly around, use my abilities without feeling like there's a governor on it."
Barr, who turns 30 on March 18, said he'll always have "a special place in my heart for Minnesota" after he was the first draft choice by Zimmer's Vikings in 2014.
Zimmer's voice cracked when asked about Barr, the longtime Vikings team captain, leader of the team's social justice committee, and second-team All-Pro selection in 2015.
"A terrific person," Zimmer said. "He's a really good football player. He does an awful lot of things for this football team, this organization, for the community. He's extremely smart. He's a guy I respect an awful lot."
If Barr's playing days are done in Minnesota, he exits with 17½ sacks — fourth most by a linebacker in Vikings history — but said his impact was far greater than his stats. Barr pointed to the intangibles — "I'm making all the calls, all the checks [in the defense]" — as a reason why he feels there's a parallel between him and Zimmer.
"I don't know if the fans really appreciate [Zimmer] the past few years as much as players have," Barr said. "I kinda feel the same way about myself. I know my teammates and my coaches appreciate me, and I feel maybe that's not the same case with the public.
"I feel a little underappreciated. I still got all love for the fans; I know how fans are. It's all good."