Lunch Break

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Lunchbreak: Vikings Defense Winning with Collective Effort

Posted Oct 20, 2017

The Vikings defense has Pro Bowlers at every level, and is using a collective effort to produce on-field success so far in 2017.

Matthew Coller of 1500ESPN.com recently wrote that Minnesota’s success has to do with numerous players being at the top of their game.

Coller, who referenced that Pro Football Focus ranks Minnesota as the league’s best defense, rattled off a number of Vikings players who have played well through six games.

Safety Harrison Smith is the Vikings highest graded player, scoring a 93.9 out of 100. The Vikings have five players rated in the top 15 at their position: Smith, Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph, Anthony Barr and Danielle Hunter. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes has also allowed just a 52.9 rating on throws in his direction.

The Vikings defense has a chance to bolster their case over the next two weeks as they face Baltimore and Cleveland, who both rank in the bottom 10 in scoring offense.

The ratings above are from Pro Football Focus. The site mentioned the Vikings strong run defense, which ranks third in the NFL, as a key component for success.

Vikings recall wild 2013 game against Ravens

NFL games don’t get much crazier than the last time the Vikings and Ravens squared off.

Besides playing in snowy conditions in Baltimore toward the end of the 2013 season, the teams endured a chaotic finish.

John Holler of Viking Update took a look back at the wild ending, noting that although the Vikings led 12-7 with just over two minutes left, there was plenty of action left.

Holler wrote:

In the final 2:05 of the game, the teams combined to score five touchdowns – the most points scored in such a short span of time in NFL history.

The hit parade started with a Joe Flacco 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dennis Pitta with 2:05 to play that, when followed by a two-point conversion, gave the Ravens a 16-12 lead.

The Vikings responded with 1:27 to play when Toby Gerhart scored on a 41-yard run to give Minnesota a 19-15 lead. Looking to pooch a kickoff to try to pin Baltimore deep in its own territory, Jacoby Jones returned the kickoff 77 yards for a touchdown to give the Ravens a 22-19 lead with 1:16 to play.

The Vikings responded quickly with a 79-yard screen pass and run by Cordarrelle Patterson, giving Minnesota the lead back, 26-22, with 45 seconds remaining. But, with just four seconds left on the clock, Baltimore finished another drive with an acrobatic catch by Marlon Brown to win the game 29-26 – closing out the game with 36 points in 125 seconds.

For those who went through it, while a game the Vikings would just as soon forget, that isn’t possible.

“That was new to me,” tight end Kyle Rudolph said. “I’ve played in games with really bad weather. I’ve played in games that had a lot of scoring back and forth. But, I’ve never been a part of a game that had the combination of weather and the five touchdowns at the end like that. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime type of finish.”

For some players, like Texas natives Andrew Sendejo and Brian Robison, it was the first time they had played on a snow-covered field and the closing shootout was something they had never been a part of either.

“I remember it was a crazy game and that we lost,” Sendejo said. “I had never played in a snow game like that – with all the elements and how the game was. I haven’t really thought about it since then.”

“I’d never played in snow before,” Robison added. “It was something that just happened in that game. It was pretty much a defensive battle, and then it just became score after score after score after score. It was a pretty crazy ending to what had been a pretty good football game.”