After going more than three games without a sack, the Vikings defense doubled their season output Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.
The team's three-game stretch was the longest in franchise history, but from the Cardinals' first snap until their last, the defense was applying pressure on quarterback Derek Anderson. By the time the game ended, the Vikings had six sacks and 11 quarterback hits.
What was the difference between Sunday's performance and their previous three games?
Even the players aren't quite sure.
"No idea. It seemed like the floodgates opened and you hope that's something that can continue. They came quick and in a hurry at the end," said linebacker Chad Greenway, who had one. "It was good for us, it was good for our defensive line to get in there and create havoc. They've been doing it all year, but they haven't really seen the results. It was good for them to do that."
Greenway and head coach Brad Childress both said the Metrodome crowd had something to do with it. Many of them came to see, as Childress said, see his "execution." But by the end of the game, with the Vikings pulling off the biggest comeback in franchise history, they were turning the Dome into a raucous environment.
"The crowd is no small part of that. That's a unique environment at the Metrodome when it gets ramped up, and it's extremely hard to deal with as an offensive group to be able to get off, to be able to communicate, just some of the small things," Childress said. "So I always say that those things come in bunches and let's hope that the floodgates are open right now."
Greenway acknowledged the crowd had conflicting agendas at the start of the game, but when a win was within sight, they started getting loud and making it more difficult on the Cardinals offense.
"The Metrodome didn't know what they wanted to do, but at the end they really jumped on board," Greenway said. "They were up and down like the ocean yesterday. But they hung in with us, I'll give them that. They hung in with us and they were there at the end when we needed them. It was loud in there at the end."
Through the first 59 minutes and 30 seconds of the game, the Vikings had two sacks. Ray Edwards got one on Derek Anderson's first official snap, and Madieu Williams and Jared Allen combined for another one in the second quarter.
But after the Vikings scored their final touchdown to tie the game 24-24 with 27 seconds left in regulation, they needed stops on the Cardinals' final two drives – the last one of regulation and the first of overtime.
"We didn't do anything different from what we have been doing. Things just finally starting falling in our laps. Things started falling our way. They say sacks come in bunches and obviously they do," said defensive lineman Brian Robison, who saw snaps at both defensive end and slid inside to defensive tackle on third-down passing situations.
"We do a great job up front running some games and being able to put pressure on those guys on the edges, me and Ticket (Kevin Williams) down inside did some stuff inside that allowed Ray and Jared to rush off the edge and get some one-on-ones with tackles and it worked out for us."
In the Cardinals' final six snaps of regulation, the Vikings had four sacks. Allen had the first and last, Edwards had one on the final snap of regulation and Greenway had one on the second snap of overtime.
"We got into a little bit of a dime package yesterday, which I think threw them off a little bit," Greenway said. "But for the most part we were who we are. But we threw a couple of more blitzes at them, especially run blitzes at the end when we needed to get off the field."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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