During a 4-game mid-season stretch from Week 4 to Week 7, the Vikings defense had a negative 4th-quarter scoring margin in 3 of 4 contests, including a -8 margin against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 6 that almost cost them the game.
In Week 4 against Green Bay, a -7 scoring margin almost cost the Vikings a victory late in the game and then in Week 7 at Pittsburgh the Vikings were outscored 14-7 in the 4th quarter along the way to their first loss of the season. At that point in time, the trend of negative scoring margins in the final quarter of the game was a concern.
But since then, the Vikings have rectified the problem and have won their past 4 contests going away, with 4th-quarter scoring margins of +8, +10, +1 and +9. Against the Bears on Sunday, the Vikings allowed only 2 net yards in the 2nd half.
The key to the Vikings turnaround in this aspect of the game is partly the learning experience they gained from that mid-season stretch. Asked if he and his teammates thought they had Sunday’s game in their “back pocket” after interceptions by Bears QB Jay Cutler, Vikings LB Chad Greenway cited their history of 4th-quarter let downs and insisted this defense takes nothing for granted.
“Well, you never know what’s in your back pocket,” Greenway said. ” We’ve had other games, like Baltimore, where you’ve had games put away and teams come back on you. You know they’re capable of that, especially with the offense they have over there. You just have to avoid the big plays and make tackles.”
An improvement in tackling and a continued pass rush has allowed the Vikings to close out games recently. With the exception of a Justin Forsett TD last week against Seattle, the Vikings haven’t surrendered any scores in the 4th quarter since they came back from their bye in Week 10.
“We are tackling better in the second half, and that was our number one goal for the second half of the season,” Greenway explained. “We want to continue to maintain that. Do the simple things well, and play fundamentally well.”
Tags: Chad Greenway
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