Notebook: Vikings get physical

The Vikings challenged one of the NFL's most physical receivers and were rewarded for their approach. Plus, a few players sound off on the late first-half decision to let time run out, comparing the explanations between Bryant McKinnie and Bernard Berrian, and Devin Aromashodu took advantage of his opportunity.

Antoine Winfield didn't practice all last week and was inactive for the first time this season because of a neck injury. Cedric Griffin was benched for disciplinary reasons for the first series.

And the Minnesota Vikings, using a healthy dose of Asher Allen and Marcus Sherels – no starts between them this year – still held Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald Jr. to four catches for 66 yards and intercepted Arizona's quarterbacks three times.

"You're always conscious of [Fitzgerald]," said Allen, who started in place of Griffin. "We just have to play the defense that we have to play. … The bottom line, they've got so many weapons that focusing on one isolates somebody and so you have to stand up and play your best."

The Vikings were helped out by the inaccuracy of QB Kevin Kolb and the pressure the defensive line applied to him. Brian Robison and Jared Allen had two sacks each, combined for four quarterback hurries, three tackles-for-loss and one pass defense. Robison also forced a fumble of Kolb that Allen recovered.

But shutting down Fitzgerald was especially important given his physicality and ability to come down with the ball in traffic. The Vikings simply met him with a physical approach.

"Just get him off his routes, get hands on him," said CB Chris Cook, who started for Winfield. "He's a big guy. Most of the time big guys can't get off jams well and that's all we did. We just went down and rerouted him the whole game."

The Vikings did have cornerbacks Cedric Griffin and Cook both up tight on Fitzgerald, not allowing him to get a clean release off the line of scrimmage.

"I'm going to sit back and watch all the tapes and definitely see exactly what I can do to improve myself and make sure that I'm holding myself to the highest standards," Fitzgerald said.

"The plays are there to be had. It's human error. It's guys not knowing what they're supposed to do every single snap. We use the same plays that took us to the Super Bowl and ones that have been successful in the past. Our execution is not where it needs to be. We have to correct those problems."

Asher Allen ended up with six tackles, an interception and a pass defensed. Griffin had five tackles, a pass defensed and a forced fumble. Cook had five tackles and a pass defensed. And safety Jamarca Sanford had two interceptions.

"Great to see Asher step up, great to see Jamarca step up. Chris Cook, it seems like he is getting better every week," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "We all know there are big-time receivers every week in our league and I haven't seen him bat his eyes yet. He just continues to improve."

Cook was on the take … from Jared Allen, who offered an incentive to Cook if the Vikings held Fitzgerald under 100 yards receiving. Neither Cook nor Allen would reveal the exact nature of the "deal," but Cook said he "made out OK."

So did the Vikings, thanks to the physical play of the cornerbacks who did it without the assistance of their most accomplished corner, Winfield.

"You've got a Hall of Fame cornerback who can play nickel and all that stuff and you try to make sure there's not a dropoff in game play," Asher Allen said. "Me and Sherels had big shoes to fill, but our whole team as a whole really played great today."

WANTED: AGGRESSIVE APPROACH

When Arizona inexplicably took two timeouts after Vikings first downs with less than two minutes to play in the first half, the Vikings were looking to take advantage of the extra time gifted to them. The drive began on the 4-yard line, but gains of 11 and 12 yards on Adrian Peterson runs and 11 yards on a Percy Harvin catch put them near midfield. They got to the Cardinals 48-yard line with 45 seconds to play, but after a 9-yard sack of McNabb, Frazier elected to let the time run out, much to the dismay of Percy Harvin and Visanthe Shiancoe, who showed their displeasure toward the Minnesota sideline as clock ran down.

"Hell, yeah. I wanted to do it. I want to stomp people. I don't just want to beat them. We've got to stomp them," Shiancoe said. "We're too good to just chill, just cruise control. I don't want no cruise-control button.

"At the same time, the coach made the decision for a reason. We're still going to go with it. Sometimes when you're in that mode, you just want to monster somebody, monster the next team. That's my mind frame and that's a couple people's mind frame. The leaders on the team, that's the approach we're taking and that's the mind frame we want to have."

Said Harvin: "Yeah, we wanted to. But coach wanted to do something else. We just wanted to go into the half with a good lead and not give up anything stupid."

That's exactly what Frazier was thinking, and he was content with the 28-3 halftime lead.

"Once we got pretty good field position we wanted to try and get a score, but after that sack I said, ‘You know what, we're getting the ball back coming out of the half, we're playing good on offense, let's not do anything to give them any momentum at this point in the game,'" Frazier said. "Yeah, that was the thinking exactly, knowing we were going to get the ball coming out of the half."

AROMASHODU DIGS THE DIG

Without Berrian, Devin Aromashodu got his most extensive action and doubled his receptions total – and Berrian's – for the season with two catches for 81 yards, including a 60-yard crossing route, on Sunday.

"We caught them in a Cover-2. I had a dig route at about 20 yards and I just pushed up, got on the safety and then I just broke it in," Aromashodu said. "The line held up pretty well and [Donovan] McNabb was able to get the ball to me. The rest just comes natural, just run."

Aromashodu said he didn't know until shortly before the game that Berrian would be inactive, but he's hoping that he's starting to gain the confidence of McNabb.

"I feel like I was able to do that. I want to build off that from week to week and be ready when this team needs me," Aromashodu said.

"That's my goal, to get involved. If not, I'll be ready whenever they need me."

BERRIAN VS. McKINNIE

Despite the obvious difference in circumstances surrounding the release of offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie on Aug. 3 and making wide receiver Bernard Berrian a healthy scratch for Sunday's game, there was one similarity – Frazier's explanations.

"It just wasn't a good fit for what we're trying to do and where we're trying to go," Frazier said of McKinnie the day he was released. "… For us, what we're trying to do, the timing just wasn't right."

Here was Frazier on Berrian Sunday: "Just looking at where we were as a team and what we're trying to get accomplished, that was it. Just looking at the bigger picture and what we had to get done as a football team. That's not to say it'll continuously be this way. There were some things that we needed to get done that had to be done."

With each of them, no real explanation was given, just a vague response. In Berrian's case, that leaves open any number of scenarios going forward. Berrian was not available for comment following the game.


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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\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":"Antoine Winfield didn't practice all last week and was inactive for the first time this season because of a neck injury. Cedric Griffin was benched for disciplinary reasons for the first series. And the Minnesota Vikings, using a healthy dose of Asher Allen and Marcus Sherels – no starts between them this year – still held Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald Jr. to four catches for 66 yards and intercepted Arizona's quarterbacks three times. \"You're always conscious of [Fitzgerald],\" said Allen, who started in place of Griffin. \"We just have to play the defense that we have to play. … The bottom line, they've got so many weapons that focusing on one isolates somebody and so you have to stand up and play your best.\" The Vikings were helped out by the inaccuracy of QB Kevin Kolb and the pressure the defensive line applied to him. Brian Robison and Jared Allen had two sacks each, combined for four quarterback hurries, three tackles-for-loss and one pass defense. Robison also forced a fumble of Kolb that Allen recovered. But shutting down Fitzgerald was especially important given his physicality and ability to come down with the ball in traffic. The Vikings simply met him with a physical approach. \"Just get him off his routes, get hands on him,\" said CB Chris Cook, who started for Winfield. \"He's a big guy. Most of the time big guys can't get off jams well and that's all we did. We just went down and rerouted him the whole game.\" The Vikings did have cornerbacks Cedric Griffin and Cook both up tight on Fitzgerald, not allowing him to get a clean release off the line of scrimmage. \"I'm going to sit back and watch all the tapes and definitely see exactly what I can do to improve myself and make sure that I'm holding myself to the highest standards,\" Fitzgerald said. \"The plays are there to be had. It's human error. It's guys not knowing what they're supposed to do every single snap. We use the same plays that took us to the Super Bowl and ones that have been successful in the past. Our execution is not where it needs to be. We have to correct those problems.\" Asher Allen ended up with six tackles, an interception and a pass defensed. Griffin had five tackles, a pass defensed and a forced fumble. Cook had five tackles and a pass defensed. And safety Jamarca Sanford had two interceptions. \"Great to see Asher step up, great to see Jamarca step up. Chris Cook, it seems like he is getting better every week,\" Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. \"We all know there are big-time receivers every week in our league and I haven't seen him bat his eyes yet. He just continues to improve.\" Cook was on the take … from Jared Allen, who offered an incentive to Cook if the Vikings held Fitzgerald under 100 yards receiving. Neither Cook nor Allen would reveal the exact nature of the \"deal,\" but Cook said he \"made out OK.\" So did the Vikings, thanks to the physical play of the cornerbacks who did it without the assistance of their most accomplished corner, Winfield. \"You've got a Hall of Fame cornerback who can play nickel and all that stuff and you try to make sure there's not a dropoff in game play,\" Asher Allen said. \"Me and Sherels had big shoes to fill, but our whole team as a whole really played great today.\" When Arizona inexplicably took two timeouts after Vikings first downs with less than two minutes to play in the first half, the Vikings were looking to take advantage of the extra time gifted to them. The drive began on the 4-yard line, but gains of 11 and 12 yards on Adrian Peterson runs and 11 yards on a Percy Harvin catch put them near midfield. They got to the Cardinals 48-yard line with 45 seconds to play, but after a 9-yard sack of McNabb, Frazier elected to let the time run out, much to the dismay of Percy Harvin and Visanthe Shiancoe, who showed their displeasure toward the Minnesota sideline as clock ran down. \"Hell, yeah. I wanted to do it. I want to stomp people. I don't just want to beat them. We've got to stomp them,\" Shiancoe said. \"We're too good to just chill, just cruise control. I don't want no cruise-control button. \"At the same time, the coach made the decision for a reason. We're still going to go with it. Sometimes when you're in that mode, you just want to monster somebody, monster the next team. That's my mind frame and that's a couple people's mind frame. The leaders on the team, that's the approach we're taking and that's the mind frame we want to have.\" Said Harvin: \"Yeah, we wanted to. But coach wanted to do something else. We just wanted to go into the half with a good lead and not give up anything stupid.\" That's exactly what Frazier was thinking, and he was content with the 28-3 halftime lead. \"Once we got pretty good field position we wanted to try and get a score, but after that sack I said, ‘You know what, we're getting the ball back coming out of the half, we're playing good on offense, let's not do anything to give them any momentum at this point in the game,'\" Frazier said. \"Yeah, that was the thinking exactly, knowing we were going to get the ball coming out of the half.\" Without Berrian, Devin Aromashodu got his most extensive action and doubled his receptions total – and Berrian's – for the season with two catches for 81 yards, including a 60-yard crossing route, on Sunday. \"We caught them in a Cover-2. I had a dig route at about 20 yards and I just pushed up, got on the safety and then I just broke it in,\" Aromashodu said. \"The line held up pretty well and [Donovan] McNabb was able to get the ball to me. The rest just comes natural, just run.\" Aromashodu said he didn't know until shortly before the game that Berrian would be inactive, but he's hoping that he's starting to gain the confidence of McNabb. \"I feel like I was able to do that. I want to build off that from week to week and be ready when this team needs me,\" Aromashodu said. \"That's my goal, to get involved. If not, I'll be ready whenever they need me.\" Despite the obvious difference in circumstances surrounding the release of offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie on Aug. 3 and making wide receiver Bernard Berrian a healthy scratch for Sunday's game, there was one similarity – Frazier's explanations. \"It just wasn't a good fit for what we're trying to do and where we're trying to go,\" Frazier said of McKinnie the day he was released. \"… For us, what we're trying to do, the timing just wasn't right.\" Here was Frazier on Berrian Sunday: \"Just looking at where we were as a team and what we're trying to get accomplished, that was it. Just looking at the bigger picture and what we had to get done as a football team. That's not to say it'll continuously be this way. There were some things that we needed to get done that had to be done.\" With each of them, no real explanation was given, just a vague response. In Berrian's case, that leaves open any number of scenarios going forward. Berrian was not available for comment following the game. 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