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  1. #1
    singersp's Avatar
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    Vikings out to prove the best offense is a touchdown-hungry defense

    Posted on Tue, Oct. 10, 2006

    [size=13pt]GOAL-LINE ORIENTED[/size]

    The Vikings are out to prove that the best offense is a touchdown-hungry defense

    BY SEAN JENSEN
    Pioneer Press


    Vikings Pro Bowl safety Darren Sharper appreciates his defense's three touchdowns.

    But he laments the two that got away.

    He dropped an interception that was a sure touchdown in the second quarter against the Chicago Bears, and cornerback Ronyell Whitaker bobbled one away in the fourth quarter Sunday against the Detroit Lions.

    "That's like five touchdowns," Sharper said, shaking his head. "We would have been on pace for a big year.

    "The thing is, we still have a lot of games left. If we continue to do what we're doing, I wouldn't be surprised at the end of the season if we can get 10 touchdowns as a defense. That would be unbelievable."

    If he were a Raven or a Bear, Sharper's comment wouldn't be too surprising.

    But he plays for the Minnesota Vikings, a team that in recent memory has fielded defenses with the intimidation factor of a fluffy purple dinosaur beloved by children, instead of the famed "Purple People Eaters" beloved by football purists.

    Yet the modern Vikings have given signs that they are reviving the personality of a bygone era.

    Through five games, the defense is ranked seventh overall and has scored three touchdowns, only one fewer than the offense. And including the 2005 season, the Vikings have returned five interceptions for touchdowns to lead the NFL, reflecting a new attitude at Winter Park.

    "We really and truly believe it's our job to put points on the board, too," linebacker Napoleon Harris said. "We feel like we're good enough to be an elite defense, and that's what you have to do."

    Defensive end Darrion Scott added: "Good defenses stop people and get a turnover. But great defenses score."

    Indeed, the 1961 San Diego Chargers returned nine of 49 interceptions for touchdowns, even more remarkable considering they played a 14-game season.

    Despite his offensive background, coach Brad Childress has learned to rely on his defense. He showed his confidence in the defense early in the fourth quarter when he had kicker Ryan Longwell fake a 52-yard field goal and punt the ball inside the Lions' 10-yard line.

    Defensive end Kenechi Udeze acknowledged that such a play wouldn't have happened two years ago.

    "We got stung in the past," Udeze said. "A team might have dinked up right in the middle."

    The Vikings couldn't protect a tie or a lead in three losses in 2004, when they finished 8-8. In back-to-back games at Indianapolis and Green Bay, the defense couldn't stop either opponent after the offense scored touchdowns late in the fourth quarter.

    "It's different now," Udeze said. "Everybody realizes that, and that's a point of pride."

    The defense dictates the opposing team's offense, especially inside the "kill zone," when an opponent is pinned inside its 20.

    "That's a part of the field where we try to attack," Udeze said. "It's just fun."

    The 2004 defense would have dreaded the pooch punt Childress called early in the fourth quarter with his team trailing 17-16. But the 2006 Vikings forced a three and out, and the offense produced a 20-yard field goal on the next possession.

    "We want to win games with the defensive side of the ball and just take games over and dominate," Sharper said. "We saw a little bit of that last year, at times. But overall this year, game in and play after play, guys are trying to find ways to get a turnover.

    "If you play defense like that, it bodes well at the end of the season, because in the playoffs, the old adage is, 'It comes down to defense,' and it truly does."

    Sharper added that defensive players are competing with one another in trying to score, and he suggested creating an incentive for the player with the most touchdowns at the end of the season.

    His team goal?

    "Ten," Sharper said. "That would be good."

    But safety Dwight Smith said the results are arbitrary.

    "It just happens," he said. "Football is a game of luck. A tip or a bounce goes your way. A lot of people want to say it's because of skill. But that isn't the truth. There's a whole bunch of luck to this game."

    Harris knows one thing: Defensive touchdowns go along with winning.

    In 2005, teams that scored defensive touchdowns were 58-18, according to STATS Inc. So far this season, teams that have scored a defensive touchdown have gone 14-6.

    The Vikings have three this season, but cornerback Fred Smoot said they are just getting started.

    "The best thing about it is, we haven't reached our peak," he said. "We're not close, man. That's the scary part about it, and I don't think people know that.

    "You notice you're talking to a different player each week, about who did it. We don't get turnovers just to get them. We try to get them and score."

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

  2. #2
    singersp's Avatar
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    Re: Vikings out to prove the best offense is a touchdown-hungry defense

    [size=13pt]Vikings D-line is dominant again[/size]

    Associated Press
    Posted: 5 hours ago


    EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota's defensive line isn't quite Alan Page, Carl Eller, Jim Marshall and Gary Larsen.

    Those Purple People Eaters set the standard for dominant front fours, leading the Vikings to four Super Bowl appearances in the 1970s. If today's Vikings had a people-eating contest with those guys, it wouldn't even be close.

    But with massive, agile tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams anchoring the line, the Vikings once again are feasting on opposing offenses. The latest statement was a resounding one - five sacks, four turnovers forced and the play of the game in Sunday's 26-17 rally to beat Detroit.

    "I think anytime you can get the penetration we had with our inside two guys, obviously squeeze the pocket, it makes life tough," coach Brad Childress said. "Not only do you need speed rushers off the edge, you need someone to push the pocket. I think they have done a nice job on the inside of doing that."

    And they do it with a bravado and swagger that has been earned through success. The Vikings trailed the Lions 17-10 midway through the fourth quarter, with the offense struggling again.

    "We were standing on the sidelines and Pat Williams and Kevin Williams said they were going to take over the game themselves," free safety Darren Sharper said. "They did that."

    Big Pat - conservatively listed at 317 pounds - made the first play, bursting through the line and swallowing up Lions quarterback Jon Kitna, forcing a fumble that Ben Leber turned into a touchdown to swing the momentum.

    Kevin Williams, a 304-pounder who struggled with knee injuries last season but has since regained his All-Pro form, set the tone early with two tackles for loss and a sack on the opening possession.

    "We always stay calm," Pat Williams said. "We know if we break down, we're not going to point fingers or nothing. Everybody always stays calm. We always know, don't worry about nothing."

    Couple that production with improved play from ends Kenechi Udeze, Darrion Scott and rookie Ray Edwards, and the Vikings have finally achieved the solid foundation to their defense.

    "Our defense starts with our front," Sharper said. "The level they're playing at now is unbelievable. They're dominating."

    New defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin has built on the strides Ted Cottrell took with the unit last season, turning the front four loose and, in the process, turning the Minnesota defense from a laughingstock into one of the league's best.

    Through five games, the Vikings are ranked fourth in rush defense and seventh in total defense and are allowing just 16.4 points per game.

    Sunday was the best performance to date. The Vikings played more of the Tampa 2 style, which relies on the defensive line to create pressure on the quarterback without the help from blitzing linebackers, to shut down the Lions.

    The defense scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter and held the Lions to 16 rushing yards.


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

  3. #3
    whackthepack is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: Vikings out to prove the best offense is a touchdown-hungry defense

    The strides that Ted Cottrell took last year?


    What a joke all Cottrell did last year was hold this defense back and screwed with their heads!
    What we've got here is failure to communicate.

  4. #4
    Del Rio Guest

    Re: Vikings out to prove the best offense is a touchdown-hungry defense

    The lions have been giving up sacks to everyone and turning the ball over to everyone. I want to see what this defense can do against the Seahawks and Patriots. That zone is still freaking me out.

  5. #5
    V-Unit's Avatar
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    Re: Vikings out to prove the best offense is a touchdown-hungry defense

    I agree with Del, pass defense is still very sketchy.
    "I hate when threads are destroyed by facts and logic."
    - Prophet


    Thanks Josdin!

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