MINNEAPOLIS — It was another typically strong performance by the Vikings defense.
But after dropped interceptions and a handful of missed tackles, the unit could only shake its head Sunday afternoon after the Vikings dropped a 14-7 decision at home to the Detroit Lions.
In the locker room after the game, Vikings defensive end Brian Robison was quick to point out his reasoning for the loss.
"We played well, but I think we're going to look at the tape and understand that we had some opportunities to capitalize on some turnovers — four of 'em that I saw that we didn't get," Robison said. "I think we're going to see we probably could have eliminated about 50 rushing yards if we wrap up and get the guy down, so there's much room for improvement.
"I think the turnover battle was the difference in the game. At the end of the day, they got three turnovers, and we got none," Robison added. "It's hard to win football games, and it very seldom happens when you lose the turnover battle."
On a day the Vikings limited the Lions to just three conversions on 13 third-down tries, there were plenty of positives for Minnesota.
The Vikings ferocious pass rush brought down Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford six times and also held Detroit to its lowest point total of the season.
Although the Vikings led 7-3 at the half, Minnesota fumbled on its first two possessions of the third quarter, with both turnovers occurring in their own territory.
The Vikings defense allowed just 29 yards on each drive but gave up 11 points due to being pinned against their own end zone.
"When you're playing a team as good as Detroit, or anybody in this league for that matter, you can't win games when you're zero to three in the turnover margin," Rudolph said. "Our defense played their tails off all game … with the situations we put them in with putting the ball on the ground back-to-back times."
The Vikings defense didn't make excuses about the poor field position. Instead, players lamented the fact that multiple Stafford passes bounced off their hands.
"We missed out on a lot of turnovers," said Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes. "We have to look at the film and correct where we messed up and definitely win the turnover battle."
The Vikings also allowed 97 yards on the ground, including runs of 29 and 12 yards, the two longest runs allowed by Minnesota this season.
"We did not wrap up," said Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen. "We just have to keep fighting."
The Vikings defense allowed just 251 yards of offense to Detroit, Minnesota's stingiest effort of the season. The 14 points allowed by the unit also were the lowest total in 2017.
Despite the solid performance, however, the defense was left yearning for more.
"I thought the defense played their hearts out today," said Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer. "We didn't tackle in some situations like I would have liked. They had their backs to the wall after those first two turnovers.
"I thought they fought … we'll continue to try and get better," Zimmer added. "I thought the defensive guys, they played well."