A week after they tried to beat Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in a month where he had a 32-4 career record at home, the Vikings will attempt to slay another December dragon on Monday night in Seattle.
Since Russell Wilson became the Seahawks’ starting quarterback in 2012, the team is 20-8 in December games, posting the third-best winning percentage in the NFL during that time on its way to a pair of NFC championships and a Super Bowl title after the 2013 season. The 30-year-old Wilson, who has started all 28 of those games, has a 103.3 career passer rating in December, having thrown for 58 touchdowns against 18 interceptions.
“It is really about whoever plays the best football,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “And they played the best football in December since Wilson has been there.”
Buoyed by the league’s top rushing attack (148.8 yards per game), Wilson is enjoying perhaps the best season of his career: a 115.5 passer rating, 66.6 completion percentage, 29 touchdowns and five interceptions.
He’s the third consecutive Super Bowl-winning quarterback the Vikings will face, after having squared off against Aaron Rodgers and Brady the previous two weeks.
“They’re all playoff-caliber quarterbacks,” Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen said. “They bring all different styles. You’ve got to go out and play them for a whole four quarters; you’ve got to start fast, finish fast, and that’s what our mind-sets have to be.”
When Kyle Rudolph was a rookie with the Vikings, the team’s longstanding relationship with the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital appealed to the tight end, whose younger brother Casey battled neuroblastoma as a kid. The deep relationships he’s formed with parents there might have taken him by surprise.
His work at the hospital was why Rudolph was named the Vikings’ Community Man of the Year and their nominee for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award, given during Super Bowl weekend to a player for his excellence on and off the field.
Rudolph, 29, was recognized Wednesday for his work at the Masonic Children’s Hospital, where Rudolph and his wife, Jordan, opened Kyle Rudolph’s End Zone — a 2,500-square-foot space where patients can relax, play with siblings and friends and spend time in healing therapies. Jordan Rudolph said the space has seen more than 4,000 patient visits since it opened in March.
“A mother told Jordan and I, when we were down there hanging out in the End Zone, that, ‘My son, when we leave here, he complains that he doesn’t want to go back to the hospital,’ ” Rudolph said. “When I thought about it, he believes that when he’s in the End Zone, that he’s not in the hospital. Whether it’s for rehabilitation, baking cookies in the kitchen — there’s all different kinds of ways that we can use the End Zone for treatment — these kids don’t think that when we’re in this space, for however many hours it is, we might as well be at home, because we’re not at the hospital.
“That was our main goal; I don’t think we realized at first that it would be possible to actually make that happen. But when we get feedback like that from parents, that’s what it’s all about.”
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes was a full participant in the team’s first practice of the week, after the hamstring injury he sustained against the Packers limited his availability last Sunday against the Patriots.
Zimmer said Rhodes would not be limited in practice this week, and gave a thumbs-up when asked if he thought Rhodes would be fully ready for Monday’s game.
Linebacker Eric Kendricks missed practice because of a rib injury, joining wide receiver Chad Beebe (hamstring), tight end David Morgan (knee) and cornerback Trae Waynes (concussion) as the Vikings’ non-participants.
Wide receiver Stefon Diggs was limited because of a left knee injury. Guard Mike Remmers (back) and wide receiver Brandon Zylstra (foot) were on the injury report, but practiced in full.