Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

January 5, 2013

Larry Dean to make NFL playoff debut today

TIFTON — If you saw the playoff standings for the National Football Conference four weeks ago, the Minnesota Vikings were in the back, barely hanging on with a 6-6 record.

The Vikings have since won four straight games and qualified for the playoffs with a 37-34 win over the Green Bay Packers last week at home at Mall of America Field.

With the victory, the Vikings earned a rematch with the Packers at 8 p.m. tonight in Green Bay, where the temperature is expected to be 16 degrees.

The cold conditions will add something to the team’s third meeting of the year. The other game saw the Packers win 23-14 Dec. 2 at Green Bay.

Vikings’ special team ace, and Tifton native and Valdosta State’s all-time leader in tackles, Larry Dean said his teammates and himself have looked at their final four regular season games as playoff tilts.

“That has been the mentality we have had, we need to win or go home,” said Dean. “But we have been playing some good ball and taking it one game at a time.”

Dean said the teams playing for the third time this season should not affect either side.

“We are very familiar with each other and we know what the other likes to do,” Dean said. “There is no real advantage for either side as far as I can see.”

One thing hasn’t crossed his mind, Dean said, and that’s the possibility of playing in his home state.

With the Vikings being the No. 6 seed in the NFC, a win over Green Bay would mean Minnesota would play at Atlanta, the No. 1 seed, in the next round.

“I have not even thought that far ahead, to be honest. I am staying focused on the task at hand and that’s beating Green Bay,” said Dean.

While it is a long way from Tifton, local fans can see Dean play tonight. The Vikings-Packers game will be broadcast nationally on NBC, and will be shown locally on WALB.

“We have had a great season, and I am excited that we can be on national television, so the folks back in Tifton can watch my teammates and I play,” said Dean.

“I appreciate all of the support that people in Tifton, and all over South Georgia have shown me,” said Dean. “I hope I am doing a good job of representing them.”

Game time is 8 p.m. tonight.

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