The last time the Seahawks headed to Minnesota, they dominated the Vikings in nearly every facet of the game on the way to a 38-7 victory.
It was a surprising result, not so much because the Seahawks won, but because of how thoroughly they handled the eventual NFC North champions. But while the Vikings can be honest with themselves about what happened in that game, they're confident they'll be better this time around when they host the Seahawks Sunday in the wild-card round of the playoffs. The Vikings did respond well to that loss and a subsequent close loss to Arizona the following Thursday, winning their final three games, including Sunday's showdown with the Packers at Lambeau Field for the division title.
"(The Seahawks) played very well in every phase against us in that game," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said on a conference call. "Defensively, they got after us, offensively they got after us. It was a pretty good butt whipping.
"This team's been pretty good, focused, talking about at the task at hand. I mean, it was nice to win the division. Winning the division was part of the goal. Getting in the playoffs was another part of the goal, but winning in the playoffs is the ultimate goal."
Vikings safety Harrison Smith agreed with both his coach's assessment of the last game, and with the mentality needed going forward.
"We know who we are," Smith said. "We didn't play well. Seattle dominated us, that's just how it went, and that wasn't good enough. But we move on to the next week, and that's how you get wins in this league. You can't sulk on things that happened in the past, you've just got to learn from it and move forward, and that's something our team did."
The Vikings are confident they'll perform better not just because they believe they're capable of better execution than they showed in Week 13, but also because they should be healthier, particularly on defense. In the last meeting, the Vikings were without starting nose tackle Linval Joseph, then lost Smith and linebacker Anthony Barr to injuries early in the game. Those are three of the Vikings' best defensive players, and all three are expected to be available this week.
"I think we just kept getting better," Smith said. "We've still had games that we didn't play great in, but we've learned from each week, and gotten a few guys back from getting banged up. We're excited about where we are and what's in front of us, but like I said, we have a lot of work to do before Sunday."
It's also a safe bet that Adrian Peterson, who led the NFL with 1,485 rushing yards this season, will get more carries this time around after being held to 18 yards on just eight carries in the previous meeting.
"The way our team is built, when Adrian gets those long runs, or when we grind out a long drive on offense, that's kind of the tempo that we want," Smith said. "That's how we want to win games, field position, tough defense, good special teams, moving the ball on offense. So we just kind of feed off each other well when we do that."