MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The buzz surrounding the Minnesota Vikings a year ago was unmistakable, after the addition of the best available quarterback to a roster that reached the NFC championship game.
Even for an experience-hardened team directed by a no-nonsense coach, though, the widespread belief that the Vikings were poised to finally win a Super Bowl inevitably penetrated their normally narrow focus. Such infiltration was naturally for the worse, however slight, and not for the better.
"You kind of have a feeling when you're around a team that thinks about expectations or talks about it a lot in the locker room or to the media, what have you, I think that's when you're not playing your best football," wide receiver Adam Thielen said. "I think teams that usually win Super Bowls or are playoff teams consistently, they're just coming out here and busting their tail. They're not worried about that, and I think that's the mindset of this team."