EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- After Minnesota Vikings players departed on Monday following the team's debriefing from a 30-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers, coach Mike Zimmer gave them some homework: Watch film of the Atlanta Falcons before you return to the facility on Wednesday.
That's partially because the Vikings have another big game coming up -- the Falcons are 6-4, a game back of the Vikings for the top wild-card spot in the NFC. But it also should help players move on quickly from a stinging defeat.
The Vikings had a chance to build a two-game lead on the Packers with a win on Sunday and put themselves in prime position to win the NFC North. They're still in control of their fate, with another game against the Packers on Jan. 3 at Lambeau Field, but now that they're tied in the division and coming off a defeat on national TV, it's easy for the situation to feel worse than it is. So Zimmer put all of his forward-looking mechanisms to full speed on Monday.
"As I told them, it's OK to be upset today," Zimmer said. "I want them to watch some tape tomorrow on Atlanta, and when they come in Wednesday, they'd better be smiling, because it's time to get going. The biggest mistake we make is if we let that loss become more than one. If we get beat once, shame on us. But two of them, and it's shame on me."
The Vikings came into Sunday's game primed to make a statement against a Packers team that had beaten them in nine of their previous 11 meetings. But the league's least-penalized team was flagged eight times for 110 yards in the loss, and the Vikings gave up six sacks.
"The whole country was watching this game," cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said Sunday. "We didn’t play well at all. It seems like every time we get into these types of games, we don’t play well. We’ve definitely got to learn from this. Every time it seems like it’s a big-time game, excuse my language, but we piss down our leg, every single time. We’ve got to fix this. If we want to take this team to the next level, to the Super Bowl, we definitely have to fix it.”
Cornerback Terence Newman said he didn't think the Vikings were overly excited for the game, adding, "I don't think you can get too amped up. You've got pre-workouts and all that's stuff. That's what it's for. It's supposed to get you amped up. You've got to have juice to go out and play the game of football."
There might not be 100 percent agreement on whether the Vikings were in the right frame of mind to play the Packers. Their task now is to keep that game from having any lingering effect on a tough three-game stretch that includes matchups with the Falcons, Seahawks and Cardinals in the next 17 days.
"I'm disappointed in our performance, but I'm not discouraged about our future," Zimmer said. "I still believe in this football team, and I believe in everything about us. We just have to figure out who we are and stay true to who we are."