It was a tale of two halves for the Vikings defense on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. In the 1st half, the Raiders racked up 186 yards of offense, collected 13 first downs, converted 4 of 6 third downs, and scored 24 points. In the 2nd half, though, the Vikings defense clamped down on Oakland and surrendered just 115 yards, 9 first downs, 1 of 8 third-down attempts and only 3 points.
According to Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier, veteran DT Kevin Williams deserves much of the credit for the turnaround in defensive performance.
“Without question, his best game of the season,” Frazier said on Monday. “He was dominant. I told him earlier this morning I wish we could have finished that game off just for him because he deserved a game ball for his performance yesterday. It was just a dominant performance from the Kevin we’ve all grown accustomed to seeing, and yesterday it was on display.”
Williams finished the game with 12 tackles, including 2 tackles for a loss, and he also had a sack. There’s also no doubt that he made a difference even when he didn’t notch a statistic because he commands double-teams regularly, which frees up other defenders to make plays (LB Chad Greenway had 20 tackles and a sack).
But Williams’ contributions on Sunday went beyond the football field. Frazier shared with reporters that it was Williams who lit a fire under the defense in the locker room at halftime, with the Vikings trailing 24-7.
“He couldn’t be blocked one-on-one, destroyed their guard when he was rushing the passer, he was very disruptive and just a great example for the rest of our guys,” Frazier said. “And I think that had a lot to do with why our defense played as well as they did in the second half, limiting their offense to three points and playing on the short field. Kevin had a lot to do with that. He said a few words to our entire team prior to going back out at the second half. He really backed up his words with the way he played yesterday.”
Frazier wouldn’t go into specifics of what Williams said to the team at halftime, other than to indicate it was a “good” message, and a message to which the team definitely responded.
“It was a good message, but I don’t want to into it,” Frazier explained. “It was a good message, the guys responded. They played much better in the second half. Going into that half, the way that that last four or five minutes of the second quarter ended, that could have been a disastrous second half. But the guys stood up and they fought and put ourselves in a position to have a chance to win that game. A lot of that has to do with the leaders that are still on this team. Although we’re 2-8, there are guys in that locker room that are fighting to get a win.”
Tags: Kevin Williams, Leslie Frazier
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