Anyone with a rooting interest in the Vikings came away from last weekend’s Divisional Playoff game against the Cowboys with positive feelings, and rightfully so. The Vikings registered a complete team win, playing well in all 3 phases of the game along to a 34-3 victory.
But as any perfectionist of NFL player/coach will tell you, there’s always room for improvement. And that is especially the case when you’re preparing for the a conference championship game, where even the slightest flaw might be the difference between suiting up in the Super Bowl or suiting up for an offseason on the beach.
One area that could turn out to be crucial on Sunday is turnovers and, specifically, getting points off of turnovers. Considering the Saints and Vikings had the league’s highest-scoring offenses, respectively, adding extra points by scoring them off of turnovers could be a significant factor.
And therein lies a potential area of improvement for the Vikings coming off their seemingly flawless victory over Dallas. The Vikings turned Dallas over 3 times last Sunday – 2 fumbles and 1 INT – but they were only able to tally 6 points off of those 3 turnovers.
The Vikings recovered a fumble in the 1st quarter on their own 35, but a sack on 3rd down led them to a 3-and-out, which resulted in a punt. Dallas lost another fumble in the 2nd quarter giving the Vikings possession on the Dallas 20. But a negative run and then a penalty resulted in a Ryan Longwell FG. Finally, Dallas was intercepted by LB Ben Leber in the 4th quarter but a 3-and-out series from the Cowboys 15 resulted in another FG.
So the Vikings wound up with just 6 points off of 3 turnovers, 2 of which gave them possession inside the red zone.
Those are numbers that must be improved if the Vikings are to upset the Saints this weekend at the Louisiana Superdome. And offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell indicated as much on Thursday while meeting with reporters.
“I think it’s huge,” Bevell responded when asked about scoring TDs instead of FGs inside the red zone. “It’s a game where you have the two highest scoring teams, so you know both teams are going to put points on the board…Any time we get down there and have opportunities to get points, you want to be able to make them seven.
“Obviously, if you can get three, you want to continue to get them, but seven points will be big in this game.”
By the way, the Vikings scored TDs on 62.3% of their red zone trips during the 2009 regular season, a rate that was 3rd best in the NFL. They also led the NFL with 43 red zone TDs and with 27 red zone passing TDs.
Tags: Ben Leber, Darrell Bevell, Ryan Longwell
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 21 Comments »