Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway said that while the loss to Dallas on Thursday night was difficult, he believes the team showed it is capable of playing with anyone in the NFL.
“I thought for four quarters we were toe-to-toe with those guys,” Greenway said. “I don’t think we’re going to walk away hanging our heads from that standpoint. I mean we’re a good football team. We’re 6-6, and that’s what we are.
“But we’re going to compete against anybody. Nobody in this league scares us. But we have to win football games. We just have to find a way to win in the fourth quarter.”
Greenway, who has been playing a more limited role while still providing key leadership, finished with three tackles. He said losing in such close fashion was difficult, but the team needs to continue to focus on trying to reach the postseason.
“It’s the NFL, and it’s a tough loss because you compete so hard and you try to get the win,” he said. “We have to go on to the next week, and we have to win out now to make the playoffs and that has to be our mentality — win out and we can control our destiny, for the most part.”
With the Vikings having lost six of their past seven games, Greenway said they have to focus on closing out victories. Four of the six losses have been by a touchdown or less. And even though they were facing an elite football team, Greenway said it felt like the Vikings lost the game more than the Cowboys won it.
“Really it’s about the last five minutes, we’ve struggled in situations in the last five minutes to close out games,” he said. “They’re good football players, they’re a good football team, a good offense. We knew it was going to be a challenge for us and that’s why they’re 10-1 and now 11-1. So a good challenge, we played well, but didn’t do enough.”
Greenway said the loss was especially difficult without Mike Zimmer on the sidelines due to the coach’s emergency eye surgery.
“We just wanted to win because we needed a win,” he said. “Obviously Coach wasn’t able to be here [Thursday night], and that weighs on our minds. But at the same time, we know we’re out here as professionals trying to get this win, and he knows we were ready to play and compete against anybody. Yeah, you know you want to get a win for a lot of reasons, but that’s one of them.”
If this is Greenway’s final season, it will have been a difficult one with so many close losses. And while the Vikings have 13 free agents going into the 2017 seasons — including Matt Kalil, Andre Smith, Cordarrelle Patterson and Captain Munnerlyn — the loss of Greenway would be one of the toughest because it’s impossible to replace his leadership.
Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs has had some great games this season, but he has also been followed much more closely by defenses, as evidenced by his only having two touchdowns and three 100-yard receiving games on the season.
Regarding the loss to Dallas, Diggs said: “It hurt because you want it to go another way, but it didn’t. It hurts a lot. We did everything we can but it didn’t go our way. The only thing we can do is keep playing, get back in the lab and correct the mistakes.”
Diggs was asked about Dallas’ tactics against him. He had eight receptions for 59 yards after missing the Lions game on Thanksgiving due to injury.
“Everybody has a scheme they like to do, and I was just reading their coverage and running the rout I’m supposed to,” Diggs said. “We’re going to take what they give us. I’m going to just do my job, do what I can as a teammate, and just make plays when they come.”
With four games to play, Diggs was asked if he has any idea what the future holds for this up-and-down Vikings squad.
“I’m not a future-teller,” he said, “but I’m going to continue to work hard, continue to do what I got to do for every day. That’s all I can do.”
• The world lost one of the great public relations directors in history in Tom Mee, who died Friday at age 88. Mee, who worked for the Twins for their first 32 years in Minnesota, didn’t have an enemy in the world, and he not only was good at what he did, but everyone he worked with was a close friend.
• The word from Vikings coach Mike Zimmer is that if he didn’t scratch his eye in the Arizona game, he might not have consulted doctors and they wouldn’t have found the more significant injury that required surgery, and he could have suffered more permanent eye problems as a result.
• Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen said Thursday’s loss was totally on him and his teammates. “That is game we should win, and it was a hard game,” he said. “We fought, and it was self-inflicted. We have to find a way to win these, even when we do shoot ourselves in the foot.”
• Jeff Locke had his worst day of the season against Dallas, averaging only 32.0 yards on seven punts. “I have to look at the film. I really need to. I’m not sure [what happened],” he said. Locke was asked if he felt rushed on any of the punts, including a 16-yarder in the second quarter. “I don’t think that was the case,” he said.
• Former Gophers linebacker Damien Wilson had two tackles for Dallas on Thursday. The 2015 fourth-round pick started for the fourth time in five games and has 22 tackles on the season.
• Forbes recently released their NHL franchise valuations and the Wild came in 17th in the league at $400 million. The New York Rangers were first at $1.25 billion.
• Terry Ryan also was sought by San Diego among other clubs before going to work for another former Twins general manager in Andy MacPhail with Philadelphia. Ryan took over as Twins GM when MacPhail left for the Cubs following the 1994 season. Ryan will scout the American League at Target Field and when the Twins are on the road he will scout the National League in Milwaukee.
• The word from people involved in the NFL draft is that two Gophers have a good chance to be drafted in April in cornerback Jaylen Myrick and safety Damarius Travis. Quarterback Mitch Leidner has had an up-and-down draft stock. Tackle Jonah Pirsig also is a possibility. Leidner didn’t help his draft prospects with his four second-half interceptions at Wisconsin. Some observers say Leidner might play as an athlete and not as a quarterback in the NFL.
• Former Gophers quarterback Philip Nelson had a big year for Eastern Carolina, completing 237 passes for 2,621 yards and 16 touchdowns. He has been invited to the NFL Players Association Collegiate Bowl that will be held Jan. 21 in Dominguez Hills, Calif.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. email@example.com