EDEN PRAIRIE -- The discussion was all about the opponent's high-octane, quick-strike offense with its Pro-Bowl studded cast of superstars.
Only this time, it was the Minnesota Vikings doing the talking.
''You definitely want to control the ball as much as you can, keep it away from an offense like that,'' running back Robert Smith said of the powerful St. Louis Rams.
The offense is led by MVP Kurt Warner, the second player in history to throw 40 or more touchdown passes; Offensive Player of the Year Marshall Faulk, the second player ever with both 1,000 yards receiving and rushing; and Pro Bowl receiver Isaac Bruce.
Minnesota at St. Louis, 11:35 .m. (FOX)
Tennessee at Indianapolis, 3:05 p.m. (CBS)
''Whenever you have weapons like they have, you want to keep them off the field,'' said Vikings quarterback Jeff George.
The best way for the fastbreak Vikings to do that is by running the ball, and Minnesota (11-6) at long last has the means to chew up yards and time when its faces the top-seeded Rams (13-3) in the Trans World Dome.
Smith, who rushed for a team playoff record 148 yards against Dallas last Sunday, will do his best to keep Warner & Co. on the sideline.
But he'll be facing the NFL's top-ranked rushing defense.
''We're just going to have to go out and play them like we can play,'' coach Dennis Green said. ''They're very good against the run. They have outstanding people. We never go in trying to establish one specific area. If we can throw the ball and win, we will. If we can run the ball and win, we will.
''We don't go in with anything other than we like to have balance.''
That's exactly what the pass-happy Vikings have now that they've ditched much of their multiple receiver sets for a standard two-receiver, two-tight end formation.
Four times in the last five weeks, the Vikings, who have 26 touchdown receptions between Randy Moss and Cris Carter, have run more than they've passed.
During that span, Smith has averaged 111 yards on 21 carries for a 5.2-yard average.
''I don't remember any stretch in my career where I've gotten the ball 20, 25 times so many games in a row,'' Smith said.
Smith has fully recovered from a double hernia operation that slowed him early in the season and cost him three games. His signature cutback and breakaway abilities are there again as he's averaging nearly 5 yards per carry since returning in mid-November.
Some Vikings even think Smith is better than ever.
''This is the most physical I've seen him,'' right tackle Korey Stringer said. ''He's definitely delivering blows and he's been real hard to tackle. He's not only hitting the holes real quick, but he's hard to bring down once the guys do get to him.
''He's really focused and that attitude is carrying over into the team.''
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