The Vikings entered 2009 having led the league in rushing defense for 3 consecutive seasons, becoming the first club since the merger to accomplish that feat.
But after the first 2 games this season, the Vikings were ranked 15th against the run, raising some eyebrows and causing some to question the Purple’s dominance near the line of scrimmage.
The Vikings, however, didn’t question themselves and instead of raising their eyebrows, they raised their intensity.
Now 11 games into the season and with a 10-1 record, the Vikings rank 2nd in the NFL against the run. They entered Week 12 with the #3 ranking, but allowed just 43 rushing yards to Chicago and vaulted ahead of Cincinnati for the #2 spot.
“We’ve been picking it up the last few weeks,” All-Pro DT Kevin Williams said. “And we’ve been chopping it (the overall NFL rank against the run) down, chopping it down – we’re trying to get that number one run defense back.”
A part of the Vikings surge to the top of the charts in rushing defense has been their remarkable ability to hold opposing rushers to fewer than 100 yards. By suffocating Bears RB Matt Forte to the tune of 27 yards on 8 carries, the Vikings extended their streak of not allowing a 100-yard rusher to 34 games, the longest active streak in the NFL and just 4 games shy of the all-time mark set by the Baltimore Ravens.
While teams typically don’t get caught up in statistics, the Vikings defense doesn’t shy away from the fact that they take pride in shutting down the opposing team’s rushing attack.
“For the last three to four years – we have a goal sheet every week – and that is number one each week,” Williams said of holding the opposing rusher to fewer than 100 yards. “We already know it’s number one, and in the back of our minds we know it’s there, and we just try to go out and accomplish it every week.”
Statistical goals are always secondary to the ultimate goal of winning games. But as Vikings DE Jared Allen pointed out, the Vikings ability to be among the NFL’s elite in terms of rushing yards allowed has directly impacted the team’s most important statistic – number of wins.
“They (the opposing offense) have to play one-dimensional,” Allen explained. “They have to drop back to throw. And, we were shutting down the run. Every game we go into, we feel that if we can make a team one-dimensional, then we have the matchups and we feel like we can win.”
Tags: Jared Allen, Kevin Williams
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