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  1. #1
    singersp's Avatar
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    Defense starting to take offense

    [size=18px]Vikings: Defense starting to take offense[/size]

    With the offense not what it once was, the defense believes it must do more to put points on the scoreboard.

    Judd Zulgad, Star Tribune
    Last update: December 21, 2005 at 5:41 AM

    Mike Tice could sense it each time he watched his tired defense leave the field in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 18-3 loss to Pittsburgh. The Vikings coach saw growing frustration from a unit that felt it was doing more than its share.

    That feeling would have been understandable. The defense spent 36 minutes, 48 seconds on the field and, when it was on the sidelines, it was subjected to ugly performances by teammates.

    The offense was 3-for-12 on third-down conversions -- 5-for-24 in the past two games -- and managed only three points in four trips inside the Pittsburgh 20-yard line.

    "We are all human beings, and when guys are working that hard ... I'd be a fool to stay they're not frustrated," Tice said.

    But that frustration -- according to some members of the Vikings defense -- was as much the result of the unit putting responsibility for scoring on its own shoulders as anything. That likely will happen again Sunday night when the Vikings face a Baltimore defense that is ranked sixth in the NFL, one spot behind the Steelers.

    "We have to try to find a way to score on defense," free safety Darren Sharper said. "Whether it's likely or whether it's not likely, that's what we have to have. You would like the offense to help you out, and we've just got to keep grinding. If they're not on, we have to find a way on defense. We need to get a pick or a fumble and set them up right in the red zone. That's the way we've got to keep trying to look at it."

    That line of thinking is an enormous departure from recent years, when a high- powered offense has been counted on to cure all the team's ills. The Vikings offense hasn't ranked lower than the defense since 1993, but that could happen this season; the defense is ranked 24th in the NFL and the offense is 26th.

    Though the defensive ranking is low, that unit played a significant role in the team's recent six-game winning streak because of its ability to give the offense favorable field position through interceptions and forced fumbles. During the streak, which ended Sunday, the defense had 17 interceptions and four fumble recoveries.

    Two of its five interceptions in a 27-13 victory over St. Louis on Dec. 11 gave the Vikings the ball inside the Rams 30 and resulted in 10 points. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, well aware of the opportunistic nature of the Vikings defense and with his team ahead much of the game, attempted only 15 passes. Most were of a low-risk nature.

    "The opportunities for interceptions weren't there and then running the ball, [the defense] was trying as best they could to strip it," defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell said.

    Pittsburgh's only turnover came when Antwaan Randle El had a punt bounce off his facemask, and the Vikings recovered on the Steelers 3 in the first quarter. However, the offense failed on three attempts to get into the end zone, and Paul Edinger kicked a field goal.

    "We were kind of upset they didn't score when we had the ball on the 3-yard line, but that happens," cornerback Antoine Winfield said, dismissing the notion that any animosity might exist toward the offense. "We need those guys, we have to be supportive of them. It's not like I'm playing both ways, and I can do anything on the offensive side of the ball. We need them just as much as they need us."

    Sharper -- whose brother Jamie played linebacker for Baltimore in the 2000 season, when the Ravens won the Super Bowl behind a superb defense -- appears willing to give it a go alone.

    "Would you like to get more points? Of course, that's a no-brainer," he said. "But if it's a situation where it's not happening and you're playing a good defense, you have to try to win the game on defense. That's the type of attitude I want us to have as a defense. Not rely on anyone else. Try to win the game by ourselves."

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  2. #2
    SamDawg84 Guest

    Re: Defense starting to take offense

    lol nice title and smiley man, and im suprized how bad we played

  3. #3
    whiteboy is offline Pro-Bowler
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    Re: Defense starting to take offense

    nice post once again singer

  4. #4
    Rookie444's Avatar
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    Re: Defense starting to take offense

    good one, sad but tru

  5. #5
    COJOMAY is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: Defense starting to take offense

    And here's the Pioneer Press' take on the same thing:

    [size=18px]Vikings' offense regresses[/size]
    Team's unquestioned strength in recent seasons has become its weakness

    Pioneer Press

    Running back Michael Bennett recalls that during his first four seasons with the Vikings, the offense consistently handled the defense in practices.

    The offense won upward of 85 percent of the practice battles, Bennett said.

    But things have changed dramatically this season as the Vikings' personnel and personality have evolved.

    "I think it's still about 50-50, because they know us and we know them," Bennett said. "But our defense has been playing great. As an offense, we need to take it upon ourselves, because it doesn't get easier from here.

    "We need to hold up our end."

    The offense hasn't thus far. It has been anything but elite in the wake of the offseason trade of receiver Randy Moss. With just two games remaining, the offense is ranked 26th of 32 NFL teams, the team's lowest standing since it was 25th out of 28 in 1984.

    That's a precipitous fall for a team that, since 1998, boasted six top-five offensive rankings, including No. 1 in 2003.

    Although the defense is ranked 24th, it ranks second in the NFL with 23 interceptions, and, along with the special teams, has provided the fourth-most takeaways in the league.

    During Minnesota's six-game win streak, the defense's dominance masked concerns about the sputtering offense. But an 18-3 loss Sunday to Pittsburgh exposed recurring struggles. In four trips inside the Steelers' 20-yard-line, the Vikings' offense mustered just three points.

    Compared with last season, Minnesota's red-zone offense has gone from 12th to 26th, its pass offense from second to 22nd, its third-down efficiency from first to 30th, and its points per game from sixth to 22nd. That doesn't factor in three defensive touchdowns and two on special teams.

    "It's just one of those things in the back of your head you always think about," Bennett said. "We went from the best show on turf, and now we're still trying to get that form back. And I think we will. We have the playmakers to get it done. It's just taking some time."

    But the Vikings are running out of time, and their final two opponents, Baltimore and Chicago, have the sixth- and top-ranked defenses, respectively, in the NFL.

    "Speaking for the offense, it is frustrating," guard Adam Goldberg said. "You always want to be the unit that the team hangs their hat on. I just think we need to get going, when the defense gives us a big turnover, or a momentum shift or a short field."

    That didn't happen against Pittsburgh. Minnesota's punt team recovered a fumble at the Steelers' 3-yard line. Four plays later, the Vikings settled for a 20-yard field goal. That was one of the nine times this season the offense got a gift-wrapped possession inside the opposition's 30. It has scored five touchdowns and made two field goals. But it also has missed two field goals.

    Coach Mike Tice said the defense played well enough to win Sunday against Pittsburgh, and he sensed frustration with his defensive players after the loss.

    "I could see them, unfortunately, in the fourth quarter getting a little frustrated," Tice said. "I know it was tough on them. They were holding them to three-and-outs, and maybe they would make a couple of first downs and then we'd hold them on third down, and then we go out and go three-and-out.

    "That's two weeks in a row. We are all human beings, and when guys are working that hard, I'm not going to say there's going to be any finger pointing. But I'd be a fool to say they're not frustrated."

    But defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell and two of his leaders said that's not the case at all.

    "I didn't sense it. If that's the way Mike felt, he may have sensed it. I don't know," Cottrell said. "I kept talking to (the defensive players). We really weren't worried about it. We were just like, 'We got to get the ball.' Get the ball. Keep fighting."

    Safety Darren Sharper said he is sympathetic to the plight of the offense, which lost Moss in the Oakland deal and quarterback Daunte Culpepper and Pro Bowl center Matt Birk to injuries.

    "I think when you have different guys in different places, you see the chemistry change," Sharper said. "The outlook of the offense changes a little bit.

    "Would you like to get more points? I mean, of course. That's a no-brainer. But if it's a situation where it's not happening, and you're playing a good defense, you have to try to win the game on defense. That's the type of attitude I want us to have as a defense. Not rely on anyone else."

    Cornerback Antoine Winfield said he's not about to criticize the defense because he's been on the flip side.

    "This is a team game. I've been on teams where we had good offenses and I was a part of that bad defense," Winfield said. "We're all professionals. We have a job to do. So you just try to do the best you can each week. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

    "But we need each other. It ain't like I can go out there and throw the ball and catch the ball. So I need the guys on the other side."
    Kentucky Vikes Fan

    When you require nothing, you get nothing; when you expect nothing, you will find nothing; when you embrace nothing, all you will have is nothing.

  6. #6
    Mr. Purple's Avatar
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    Re: Defense starting to take offense

    Its weird goin from we can score pretty much when we want how we want to being at the 3 yard line and only coming away with a field goal. I like the new defensive feel to this team....I think with a little more time the offense will really find its self and be more consistant. The O-Line and the lack of a running game really hurt us week to week.

    Theres NOTHING greater then a Florida Gator!
    "I promise everyone this. When Childress is let go in two years I can honestly say this.
    "I am not surprised"."-PurplePackerEater

  7. #7
    PurplePeopleEaters's Avatar
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    Re: Defense starting to take offense

    For the first time in 6 weeks I felt myself wanting Culpepper to return like mad. I had a kind of flash back of last year when he was rifling crisp passes to wiggins and burleson. Brad Johnson is not a Quarterback for the future.

  8. #8
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    Re: Defense starting to take offense

    If KRob would have caught that shovel pass and MRob wouldn't have been, well, ROBBED of that TD, we wouldn't be complaining as much...still, the offense needs to get the ball in the end zone more...we need someone to make plays in the red zone. Simple as that.

  9. #9
    Potus2028 is offline Hall of Famer
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    Re: Defense starting to take offense

    It is weird how one game can make us realize how bad we need CPep back.. Not that Johnson is bad, he pulled us out of a 2-5 hole, and is 6-1 as a starter for the vikes this year.

    I didn't realize we were so low in the defense and offensive ranking.. 24 and 26.. remember when we were in the top 5?
    But these numbers, do they reuly reflect how well the vikes play as a team? Are these numbers an accurate portayal of the team we know and love?
    The steelers loss gives the vikings a reality check that beating teams with losing records doesnt get you to the super bowl.
    i m better than you, so just give up...

  10. #10
    zimtwister is offline Coach
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    Re: Defense starting to take offense

    they are putting to much pressure on themselves. they were doing good when they had nothing to lose, now they are choocking up to much.
    "you dream of beating me, its time you wake up and apologize."

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