Mike Zimmer’s team came into Monday night’s rivalry showdown looking to shine in prime time and prove the Minnesota Vikings can do some damage in the NFL playoffs this year. A win would have also put them in a position to potentially seize the NFC North title under the right circumstances in the final week.
Instead, the Vikings (10-5) were silenced for nearly three full quarters as the Green Bay Packers rolled to a 23-10 win to clinch the division and force Minnesota into second place for another year, concurrently sealing their fate for the worst playoff seed in the NFC.
Needless to say, Zimmer wasn’t too chatty when he and Packers coach Matt LaFleur met for a brief — and I mean brief — handshake on the field.
The veteran Vikings coach offered what could be a contender for the weakest postgame handshake in the history of pro sports before turning and heading directly for the home locker room. LaFleur played it cool and turned elsewhere without much of a reaction, but it was notable for someone like Zimmer — who is a well-respected name around the league — to let emotions get the better of him and paint himself a poor sport.
Take a look and judge for yourself.
The consolation for the Vikings is they will now have one extra week to rest their starters with nothing to gain or lose in next Sunday’s home game against the Chicago Bears, who are already eliminated from the postseason picture. Minnesota became a lock for the No. 6 seed with their loss to the Packers and have some key injuries — including star rusher Dalvin Cook — to nurse before trying to salvage their reputation with a playoff run.
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Zimmer Offers Little More in Postgame
In his defense, Zimmer credited the Packers for their win in his opening comments with reporters in Monday night’s postgame. He just wasn’t very long-winded about it, or about anything really as he refused to be baited into saying something negative about quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Nearly half of reporters’ questions revolved around Cousins, who was sacked five times and tossed a back-breaking interception in the third quarter that helped set up Packers running back Aaron Jones for his first of two touchdowns on the night. He finished just 16-of-31 passing for 122 yards and a touchdown to go with his pick in a loss that sent him to 0-9 in his career in Monday night games.
Naturally, the Vikings offense lost some of its power without its top two rushing options, as both Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison were sidelined with injuries, but Zimmer wasn’t interested in using their absences as excuses and reaffirmed his support for Mike Boone and Ameer Abdullah, who combined for 55 yards on 15 carries on Monday.
“I still have a lot of faith in the backs that played tonight,” Zimmer said in Monday’s postgame press conference. “We didn’t move the ball as effective as we wanted to, that’s why the time of possession was the way it was. We’ll be all right.”