EAGAN, Minn. (WCCO) — After going three straight weeks without a win, now the Minnesota Vikings have turned things around with three straight wins.
And the Vikings find themselves back alone in first place. The catalyst for it all has been that old standby, their defense.
As WCCO’s David McCoy tells us, the key to it all has been on third down.
The Vikings defense was record-settingly good on third down last season — allowing first downs on just 25.2 percent. This year, they’re even better — 23.4 percent.
Over this three game winning streak, opponents are just 4-for-32. Why that insane level of success?
Actually, the key might be how they’re playing on first and second down to set up third-and-long. Of those 32 third downs, only 11 have been shorter than third-and-6.
“We work real hard at third downs. We’ve been working real hard on first and second down the last few weeks. So, and guys are executing,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said.
And the other thing: The Vikings have faced rookie quarterbacks playing in their first few NFL games in back-to-back weeks, and feasted on them. This Sunday, when Drew Brees comes to town….
“Different than it has been the last two weeks. This guy is amazing. I’ve always thought, when you talk about Hall of Fame quarterbacks, obviously he’s going to be one. He’s very cerebral, accurate, he’s moving well in the pocket, I was watching tape today and I was like, ‘how old is this guy? I thought he was getting old?’” Zimmer said.
And he’s leading the second-highest scoring offense in the league. So here comes the real test. It’s one thing to look good against the worst. Can you keep doing it against the best?
“We change up some calls here and there every week and try to figure out what’s the best way to stop ’em, and guys have executed,” Zimmer said.
They’ll need to come Sunday.
Zimmer didn’t offer any updates on any of his injured players from Linval Joseph, who missed Sunday’s game to fresh injuries to among others, cornerback Xavier Rhodes and linebacker Anthony Barr. The next update won’t come until Wednesday.