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As in 2012, Vikings may need to win out to make playoffs

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn.--The Vikings might need to win out to make the playoffs. Does that sound familiar? It does to linebacker Chad Greenway. Greenway is one of 14 Vikings players remaining from the 2012 season. That team was staggering along at 6-...

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn.-The Vikings might need to win out to make the playoffs. Does that sound familiar?

It does to linebacker Chad Greenway.

Greenway is one of 14 Vikings players remaining from the 2012 season. That team was staggering along at 6-6 before winning its final four to earn a wild-card berth.

This year's outfit is 6-5 and has lost five of six entering Thursday's game against 10-1 Dallas at U.S. Bank Stadium.

"Good things still can happen to teams that are in our situation," said Greenway, one of four Vikings captains. "We were 6-6 in 2012 and won four in a row and made the playoffs. ... I think we can reference that a lot."

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The Vikings are a game behind Detroit (7-4) in the NFC North, but the Lions hold the tiebreaker after sweeping the season series. They're a half-game behind Washington (6-4-1) for the second and final wild-card spot in the NFC, but other teams are in the mix, as well - some that could win a tiebreaker over Minnesota.

Dallas - arguably the best team in the NFL right now - is a tough matchup for any team. But Greenway pointed out the teams the Vikings beat to finish the 2012 regular season: Chicago, which finished 10-6, and Green Bay (11-5) at home; at Houston (12-4) and at St. Louis (7-8-1).

"We won some games we shouldn't have won," he said. "Then we went down to Houston and put it to them (23-6). So, we're capable in this building with this mentality.''

Minnesota lost at Green Bay, 24-10, in the playoffs, but Greenway wonders if it might have gone differently had quarterback Christian Ponder not missed that game with an elbow injury.

Guard Brandon Fusco, also a member of the 2012 team, sees no reason why the Vikings can't close the season in a similar manner.

"Honestly, this team is a lot better than the 2012 team, so I think we have the team to make a run here," he said. 'I think you want your team to be playing well going into the playoffs. If we get on a roll here and start feeling good about ourselves, it's a whole new season once we get into the playoffs. We've just got to get there.''

Fusco said the "experienced guys" must send a "message to the younger guys."

Not everybody from that team is looking back as much. Defensive ends Everson Griffen and Brian Robison both said it's a different year and a different situation. Still, Griffen said there's no reason to believe the Vikings can't close strong.

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"You can make a run,'' Griffen said. "You've just got to execute. Any team is beatable on any day. We've just got to go out and find that missing (piece)."

One thing missing this season has been running back Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 2,097 yards in 2012, including 651 in the final four wins. In his absence, the Vikings are the NFL's worst rushing team, averaging 71.1 yards a game.

Peterson has been out with a knee injury since Week 2 but could be back by late December.

But Sam Bradford is a better quarterback than Ponder and Minnesota's defense is better than it was in 2012.

"At the end of the day, we have got to win ballgames," Robison said. "We control our own destiny, and what I mean by that is if we go win ballgames, that will put us in a position to be where we want to be."

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