Viking' Allen starts vs. Packers despite injured shoulder
The Vikings defensive end was the clear winner in the rematch Sunday, and he only needed one arm to do it.
Despite being listed as doubtful on Friday with a severely sprained right shoulder, Allen had a sack, a safety and countless pressures of quarterback Aaron Rodgers in Minnesota's 28-27 victory over the Packers.
"I tried to do the opposite of what I did in Week 1," deadpanned Allen, who didn't have a sack or a tackle while being hounded by Clifton in the season-opening 24-19 loss. "I kind of wanted a little payback from the first game."
It was a satisfying end to a week in which Allen endured plenty of pain both in his shoulder and his wallet.
He was injured in the first half of the Vikings' 28-21 win over Houston last weekend, and took a painkilling injection at halftime so he could finish the game. The one-armed whirlwind managed to get two sacks in the second half of that game to seal the victory, then missed practice Wednesday and Thursday while trying to recover.
It's been diagnosed a third-degree sprain, the most severe level.
"The medical people cleared him," coach Brad Childress said. "You can't make grade three any worse. Tough guy. Once again, he wasn't going to be denied."
The Vikings acquired the NFL's reigning sacks champ in a trade with Kansas City this spring, then signed him to a six-year deal worth more than $74 million that includes $31 million in guaranteed money, making him the highest-paid defensive player in the league.
Allen said the pain and swelling had gone down by Sunday morning and "I guess as much as they're paying me they said, 'Get out on the field.'"
His teammates never doubted he would be in the lineup for this crucial divisional game.
"Everybody was guessing. Media guessing. Fans guessing. But I always thought he was going to play. ... He's a leader," defensive tackle Pat Williams said. "He's always talking, so I know that if he ain't practicing he's still going to play. That's our Jared Allen."
Wearing a black harness on the shoulder and receiving more medication for the pain, Allen struggled at first to get used to the restricted mobility. He was single-blocked by tight end Tory Humphrey on a 1-yard touchdown run to his side by Ryan Grant in the first quarter.
As the game went on, and the adrenaline kicked in, Allen played better and better. He sacked Rodgers in the end zone late in the second quarter to give the Vikings a 14-7 lead and spent the rest of the afternoon blazing by Clifton and getting into Rodgers' face.
"Jared's a great player. Love seeing him play," cornerback Antoine Winfield said. "He has a lot of energy. We expect him to go out and have days like that. It seems like he steps up in big games."
While head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman and his staff did a great job reducing the inflammation in Allen's shoulder, the NFL took care of the swelling in his pocketbook on Friday.
Allen was fined $50,000 for two hits on Houston quarterback Matt Schaub, a ruling he is appealing. He could be hearing from the league office again after a helmet-to-helmet hit on Rodgers that brought with it a roughing-the-passer penalty in the fourth quarter.
Once again, Allen defended himself.
"I don't ever try to go out and hurt anyone," Allen said. "I just play football hard and if I get penalized for playing football hard then that is what it's going to be.
"But I am not going to apologize for the way I play. If they want to throw a target on my back, then I'll be a target. I'm just going to go out there and play."
Inactives for the Vikings included LBs Erin Henderson and Dontarrious Thomas. WR Robert Ferguson also was scratched for the second game in a row. ... Green Bay's inactives were CB Pat Lee, RB DeShawn Wynn, LBs Brandon Chillar and Danny Lansanah, De Jason Hunter, G Allen Barbre and QB Brian Brohm.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
MORE NFL HEADLINES
- Sources: Bears to start Clausen over Cutler
- 49ers release McDonald amid investigation
- 49ers' Harbaugh 'considering' Michigan job
- Rivera: NFC South champ worthy of playoffs