EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- After the Minnesota Vikings' 20-10 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer told his players in the locker room -- and reporters outside of it -- how much the victory meant to him on a personal level.
We posited the theory that the win carried some significance for Zimmer in part because of the one season he spent as defensive coordinator there in 2007, when the Falcons went 4-12 and head coach Bobby Petrino quit in December to take a job at Arkansas. Zimmer said Monday that his days in Atlanta didn't have anything to do with it.
"It really didn’t have anything to do with Atlanta; it was important to me that we were better than we were a year ago," Zimmer said. "We have a chance to, if we win this ballgame, we’d be 8-3, we have a chance to continue to move forward. I don’t know, we lost last week, there was a lot of things. It really had nothing to do with Atlanta; I’m way past that."
There's still quite a bit to chew on in that answer. As Zimmer said, the victory meant the Vikings have officially improved on last season's 7-9 record, and it gave them their first victory over a team that still had a winning record after the game (if such things are important). The biggest effect of the victory, of course, was the fact that the Vikings did what Zimmer hoped they would: avoid moping over a 30-13 loss to Green Bay, regroup and move on. The Vikings did that, and as a result, they once again have a one-game lead over the Packers in the division.
"We continued to play like a smart football team. We continued to be pretty good in the crucial situations of the game," Zimmer said. "Since I’ve walked in here, it’s about preaching toughness and discipline and accountability and being a smart team, and that’s kind of who we are right now."
That has more value than any animus Zimmer might have over his time in Atlanta, and really, at this point, he's introducing himself to a good segment of the national football audience based on what he's doing with the 8-3 Vikings. The values Zimmer prizes -- toughness, intelligence and perseverance -- were on display with his team in his trip to Atlanta on Sunday, and they're what have the potential to carry this team a long way.