Sharper still angry at Packers
Didn't see this one posted, sorry if I missed it:
Vikings safety looking forward to next week's game at Lambeau
BY SEAN JENSEN
Vikings free safety Darren Sharper intended to be diplomatic a week before his long-anticipated homecoming performance at Lambeau Field.
After spending his first eight NFL seasons with the Green Bay Packers, the two-time Pro Bowl safety was released during the offseason for refusing a pay cut. He quickly signed a four-year contract with the rival Vikings.
Fresh off a brilliant performance in a 24-21 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday, Sharper didn't mask his lingering resentment toward the Packers.
"They'll be looking at this film, so they'll know pretty much what they could have had," said Sharper who intercepted a career-best three passes Sunday, including one he returned for a personal-best 92-yard touchdown.
"I know Green Bay knows what kind of player I am, so I don't really look at it as I have anything to prove or need to put anything on film to show them what they're missing," he said.
Sharper's interception return for a score was his second this season, moving him into a tie for sixth all time in that category. Coupled with an 88-yard runback in the season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sharper has two of the six longest interception returns for a touchdown in Vikings history. He is 2 yards shy of passing Jimmy Hitchcock's record of 242 interception return yards in a season.
Tied for second in the NFL this season with five interceptions, Sharper has been the dynamic playmaker the Vikings sought. He has posted impressive numbers even though he has missed two games with a knee injury. Previous knee problems were part of the reason the Packers decided to let him part.
Against the Giants, Sharper showcased his athleticism, instincts and impeccable timing. All three of his interceptions came inside the Vikings' red zone, including two inside the 10-yard line.
"That was one of the finest performances you'll see a free safety have," Vikings defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell said. "He was all over the place."
Cottrell gushed as he broke down each interception. In the first quarter, Sharper jumped a pass from Eli Manning to receiver Amani Toomer, who was covered closely by cornerback Antoine Winfield. Sharper tipped the pass, and, as he fell onto his back, tapped the ball to himself.
On the first play of the second quarter, with the Giants at the Vikings' 11, Sharper jumped a slant route intended for receiver Plaxico Burress.
"I don't know if (Manning) even knew he was there," Cottrell said of Sharper.
In the fourth quarter, Sharper displayed his veteran savvy. He was assigned to cover a certain part of the end zone. But content with the coverage there, Sharper swiftly shifted to his left.
"He was in his spot, then he just broke on the ball," Cottrell said. "That's what happened. He really wasn't undisciplined. It was a really big play for us."
Cottrell and Sharper said the scheme wasn't designed to put the safety in a playmaking position. But the Vikings frequently moved Sharper around against the Giants and disguised a lot of their coverages in an effort to confuse Manning, a second-year pro.
"Sometimes, you have games in which you have a chance to get around the ball a little bit more," Sharper said. "If you really look at the game, I don't get too many opportunities when the ball is thrown at me.
"But Eli was trying to throw the ball in there a couple of times, even when I had coverage. It's just a matter of coming up with those plays when you have those chances."
In the first meeting this season with the Packers at the Metrodome, Sharper didn't get those chances. Sharper diplomatically said quarterback Brett Favre was not avoiding him. But Sharper said he did not gamble against Favre and resisted the temptation "to get caught up in the moment of playing my former team."
Sharper welcomes a change for Monday night.
"If Brett had his druthers, I think he would try to throw at me," Sharper said. "But then also, he knows that if I do get a chance to pick it, he's not going to hear the end of it."
Sharper is curious how he will be received by the fans at Lambeau. While he was excited about the earlier meeting this season, Sharper said the return to Green Bay is a game he anticipated even more.
"I want to be introduced, actually, so I can see what kind of reception I get," Sharper said. "But either way, it's going to get me going. I can say I want to get cheered. But I think if I get booed, that might give me a little bit of extra motivation."
In the meantime, Sharper will focus on getting as close to 100 percent healthy as possible. He tweaked his right knee in the first quarter against the Giants, when linebacker Sam Cowart fell into him. But he flashed some speed on his TD return, and he finished the game after missing just a handful of plays.
"It's a little tender right now," Sharper said, "but it'll go away in a couple of days."
"From the fury of the Northmen, O Lord, save us!"
-- From a monestary in Ireland.