Most of the group that took the field in sub-zero temperatures on January 10, 2016 is still around this year to see the playoffs inside the friendly confines of US Bank Stadium.
The Vikings came within a 27-yard field goal of beating the Seattle Seahawks that day.
Asked what he remembered from the matchup with Seattle, receiver Stefon Diggs simply said, “I was cold.”
Tight end Kyle Rudolph made a catch that helped set up Blair Walsh’s ill-fated field goal two years ago. He requests the giant glass doors remain closed at US Bank Stadium on Sunday.
“I wasn’t here when the Cowboys came for the last Divisional Round, but all I hear about is how loud the Metrodome was for that game,” tight end Kyle Rudolph said. “Our last home game was the Seattle game, which wasn’t a true home playoff game for us. Now we’re back in our stadium and I can’t wait to get out there.”
The Vikings have been dominant at home since US Bank Stadium opened, outscoring opponents by 131 points and winning seven of eight games there this season.
“Definitely glad to be in US Bank Stadium for multiple reasons,” Thielen said. “Not only because of the cold but because of the atmosphere and just how everything was put together, that place is a pretty awesome place to play.”
“Two years ago at TCF it was a great atmosphere, but I don’t think it will compare anything to what Sunday will be like,” Thielen added.
The Vikings’ ace receiver has seen his role grow over the last two years, but he remembers well the sting of losing in the final moments.
“We have had a sour taste in our mouth since then,” Thielen said. “That was a goal of ours, that was one of the things we wanted to check off. First of all, make the playoffs. That second check was to get the first-round bye. Now it’s to go ahead and play our best football and win this game.”
There are a handful of players on the Vikings’ roster who haven’t seen playoff football before. Tight ends coach Clancy Barone asked Rudolph to explain the atmosphere to David Morgan and Kyle Carter, who will see the postseason for the first time on Sunday.
“The easiest way for me to explain to people who have never played in a playoff game is: You see the jump that’s made from preseason football to regular season football. Then there is even a little more of a jump when you play on Sunday Night or Monday Night. It’s just another level up.”