Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 12/31/12
MINNEAPOLIS A little over a month ago, the Minnesota Vikings and quarterback Christian Ponder were licking their wounds after a tough loss at Lambeau Field and lamenting a missed chance at a key road win against the Green Bay Packers because of two interceptions thrown by Ponder. Minnesota spoke then of the necessity of having to win-out to have any hopes of reaching the postseason. Four wins over four weeks, with games against four playoff hopefuls. First was a 21-14 win against the Chicago Bears, followed by a 36-22 win at St. Louis and a 23-6 win at Houston. As unlikely as a postseason run once seemed, the Vikings knew they could finish it off with a home win against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Minnesota is headed to the playoffs, following last year's 3-13 record which tied the franchise mark for fewest wins in a season, thanks to rookie Pro Bowl kicker Blair Walsh's 29-yard field goal as time expired in Sunday's 37-34 win. "It's just another week," linebacker Chad Greenway said. "It was a complete buy-in from everybody, as you can obviously tell from everyone in the locker room, every coach. It was just one game at a time and nobody was ever caught looking ahead. I can never remember talking about, 'What's next? What if they lose?' It wasn't about that. It was about, 'We have to win the game.' We told ourselves we had to win and in." The Vikings advanced with Sunday's win, earning the final NFC Wild Card spot. They will travel to face the Packers on Saturday night in the first round of the playoffs. No one outside of the organization was picking this kind of a season for the Vikings, a 7-win improvement with Ponder's inconsistency still rearing its head at the wrong times. But with Adrian Peterson chasing Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record and a single-minded focus on the "next game", Minnesota did fulfill its playoff hopes. Greenway said the Vikings didn't know the results of Sunday's earlier games with the Chicago Bears and New York Giants winning, meaning Minnesota had to win to reach the playoffs. The players didn't need to know. It was the same thing they'd been preaching all along must-win. "We didn't know how the scores ended up to be, but we knew we had to win the game, regardless," Greenway said. "Nobody wants to backdoor anything. You always take it, but. ...We knew with the teams, the matchups that were happening, we knew we most likely had to win the game." Every team will offer the lip service of needing to focus on that week's opponents. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier has stressed "next game" from the very beginning. It paid off in the final four weeks. "They really focused in on each opponent and what we had to get done and that has served us well," Frazier said. "That's exactly how it's going to have to be this week. We'll have to really focus in on Green Bay, learn from this ballgame and do the things that are necessary to focus in and prepare properly. But it has served us well, taking that approach." Winfield leaves early: Cornerback Antoine Winfield, who was trying to play with a broken bone in his right hand, had to leave Sunday's game early and wasn't able to return. Winfield's hand was swollen after the game and he felt he had to leave because of the injury. "I wasn't effective at all, really couldn't grab nothing, couldn't get off blocks," Winfield said. "I thought it was best if I came out." Winfield wore a pad under his glove, but it couldn't lessen the strain. He feels he could be ready to return for next week's game after a few more days of rest. Receiver Jerome Simpson underwent testing for a concussion but later returned. Safety Harrison Smith suffered a shoulder injury but also returned. Frazier said defensive end Brian Robison, back after missing last week's game with an AC sprain in his right shoulder, "came out pretty good." Records galore: As they've done all season, Peterson and Walsh continued to set new records. With 199 yards rushing, Peterson finished with the second-highest, single-season rushing total in NFL history (2,097 yards), falling eight yards shy of Eric Dickerson's record. Peterson also set a record for most rushing yards in the month of December with 861, besting the previous mark of 672 held by Denver's Clinton Portis in 2002. It was the most rushing yards in any individual calendar month, beating Chris Johnson's 800-yard total from 2009. Peterson, who finished one yard away from his third 200-yard rushing game of the season, tied an NFL record with seven games of at least 150 yards rushing in a season. Peterson's 6.0 yards per carry this season is the third best in NFL history for a running back with at least 250 rushing attempts. Jim Brown had 6.4 yards per carry in 1963 and Barry Sanders averaged 6.1 per carry in 1997. Walsh added to his own record with his 10th field goal of at least 50 yards this season. He tied the NFL record for most field goals made in a season by a rookie, while setting a record for highest field goal percentage by a rookie (92.1 percent). He finished second in points in a single season in Vikings' history with 141 points. Gary Anderson scored 164 points in1998. Walsh tied a team record for most made field goals in a season. He added a team-record 53 touchbacks this season. Follow Brian Hall on Twitter.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Australian athletes evacuate the Olympic village after fire

Russian weightlifting team banned from Rio

Wade says Riley did not push him out of Miami

Nationals among multiple teams inquiring on Mark Melancon

McClain does not show up for Cowboys’ training camp


Andre Johnson agrees to two-year deal with Titans

Redskins GM injures hand punching wall in frustration

Report: Aldon Smith checks into rehab

McCarthy discusses 'urgency’ to win another title with Rodgers

Report: Lions extend CB Darius Slay with $50 million deal

Adam Jones: Bengals dominated Steelers in playoff game

Texas A&M creates a very sexist version of their fight song for women

Brown, Marshall are apparently serious about their car bet

Lacy, Starks could split carries to start season

Cyborg Santos post-surgery skull photos are eerie

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Hockey team unveils Clinton, Trump bobbleheads

Bennett compares chemistry with Pats QBs to his love life

Crowell still making amends for controversial Instagram post

Report: LeBron urged Justin Bieber not to perform at RNC

Luck refutes Matt Hasselbeck’s assertion he never showers

Newspaper editor explains use of Jordan meme for MJ article

Five NFL teams set to underachieve in 2016

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker