Streak without an INT reaches record level

The Vikings are at the bottom of the league in interceptions after going eight games without a pick. But the bad news compounds when taking a deeper look at the secondary issues and lack of interceptions. We explain and players comment.

NFL teams are averaging one interception per game this year. With a nine-pick lead at the head of the NFL class are the Green Bay Packers with 27 interceptions, and three-quarters of the teams in the league have 10 interceptions or more.

The Vikings defense? It has only six interceptions and made it through the team's eighth consecutive game without an interception Sunday against the pass-prone Detroit Lions.

While linebacker Erin Henderson wanted to avoid being part of the worst record in franchise history, the 2011 Vikings already own the longest streak in team history without an interception, breaking the six-game streak from 2000, according to Viking Update statistician Scott Grams.

"That's not a good sign, but we've had turnovers," cornerback Asher Allen said last week when informed the streak had reached seven games. "But from a secondary standpoint, we always want interceptions. That's something we want to get. Offenses are good, man, and they're getting better."

The Vikings will be facing the best on Sunday, as the New Orleans Saints enter Mall of America Field on a five-game winning streak and with Drew Brees easily on pace to break the all-time passing yardage mark held by Dan Marino.

The last time the Vikings had an interception was on Oct. 9, when Jamarca Sanford had two against the Arizona Cardinals. That's when the secondary still had Husain Abdullah (concussion) and Tyrell Johnson (hamstring) at safety, along with Chris Cook (legal issues) at cornerback. At the time, Antoine Winfield was out with a neck injury but not yet on injured reserve with a broken collarbone that occurred later.

These days, the starting secondary is more of a list of who is still standing. Compared to that Arizona game, when Asher Allen and Cook were the starting cornerbacks and Abdullah and Sanford were the starting safeties, only half of the starting secondary remains. Compared to the start of the season, only one of their top three safeties and one of their top three cornerbacks remain on the active roster.

"That's tough. It's a rough game," Winfield said this week when asked about the state of the secondary. "Of course injuries are going to happen, but to lose pretty much your starting secondary, then you're just putting guys in there. You bring in (Benny) Sapp, he's out there working, Asher, (Marcus) Sherels, guys are out there playing, young guys. They're getting experience, so they'll come back next year a lot better."

The Vikings have the 26th-ranked passing defense and are tied with the Indianapolis Colts for the fewest interceptions (six) in the league, despite having the third-most sacks in the NFL (40) and being third in sacks per pass play. They are also 31st in interceptions per pass play, better than only their opponent this week, the New Orleans Saints.

They are also credited with the second-fewest passes defensed (44), only two ahead of the Colts. They are also 30th in points allowed, averaging 28 points give up per game.

Things have gotten so bad that Cedric Griffin, who has had surgery to repair both of his anterior cruciate ligaments in his knees in the past two years, was benched after allowing Titus Young to run untouched for a 57-yard touchdown on Sunday. Griffin was supposed to jam Young at the line of scrimmage, but instead was playing off the ball and didn't reroute him, and it wasn't the first time that happened to Griffin this season.

"Ced, he's been playing great ball … since he's been in the league, since he's been here. This year really probably hasn't gone the way he wanted it to, but you know he had two ACL injuries. Playing corner, that's not easy," said safety Jamarca Sanford.

"… It's tough on him, but we still believe in him and we know what we can do and we're just going to keep working with him. I know he's a competitor and he's going to do whatever it takes to keep getting better."

Griffin hasn't had an interception this year, and after missing most of last season with his second torn ACL, he hasn't had an interception since 2009. Sanford, Asher Allen and Jared Allen are the only players left on the active roster that have an interception this year, and Sanford is the only player with two interceptions this year.

Little is likely to change anymore this year from a personnel standpoint, but Winfield, Cook and Griffin are all under contract for next year. Winfield said he definitely wants to return. Cook has been tweeting as if he is anxious to return, although his status will likely depend on the outcome of his trial for felony domestic assault. Griffin, on the other hand, has hinted at asking for his release, and the way things have soured with him in recent months, that might not be a bad thing for either side.

One is certain: With an eye toward next year, the interceptions on defense will have to take a significant step forward.


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\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":"NFL teams are averaging one interception per game this year. With a nine-pick lead at the head of the NFL class are the Green Bay Packers with 27 interceptions, and three-quarters of the teams in the league have 10 interceptions or more. The Vikings defense? It has only six interceptions and made it through the team's eighth consecutive game without an interception Sunday against the pass-prone Detroit Lions. While linebacker Erin Henderson wanted to avoid being part of the worst record in franchise history, the 2011 Vikings already own the longest streak in team history without an interception, breaking the six-game streak from 2000, according to Viking Update statistician Scott Grams. \"That's not a good sign, but we've had turnovers,\" cornerback Asher Allen said last week when informed the streak had reached seven games. \"But from a secondary standpoint, we always want interceptions. That's something we want to get. Offenses are good, man, and they're getting better.\" The Vikings will be facing the best on Sunday, as the New Orleans Saints enter Mall of America Field on a five-game winning streak and with Drew Brees easily on pace to break the all-time passing yardage mark held by Dan Marino. The last time the Vikings had an interception was on Oct. 9, when Jamarca Sanford had two against the Arizona Cardinals. That's when the secondary still had Husain Abdullah (concussion) and Tyrell Johnson (hamstring) at safety, along with Chris Cook (legal issues) at cornerback. At the time, Antoine Winfield was out with a neck injury but not yet on injured reserve with a broken collarbone that occurred later. These days, the starting secondary is more of a list of who is still standing. Compared to that Arizona game, when Asher Allen and Cook were the starting cornerbacks and Abdullah and Sanford were the starting safeties, only half of the starting secondary remains. Compared to the start of the season, only one of their top three safeties and one of their top three cornerbacks remain on the active roster. \"That's tough. It's a rough game,\" Winfield said this week when asked about the state of the secondary. \"Of course injuries are going to happen, but to lose pretty much your starting secondary, then you're just putting guys in there. You bring in (Benny) Sapp, he's out there working, Asher, (Marcus) Sherels, guys are out there playing, young guys. They're getting experience, so they'll come back next year a lot better.\" The Vikings have the 26th-ranked passing defense and are tied with the Indianapolis Colts for the fewest interceptions (six) in the league, despite having the third-most sacks in the NFL (40) and being third in sacks per pass play. They are also 31st in interceptions per pass play, better than only their opponent this week, the New Orleans Saints. They are also credited with the second-fewest passes defensed (44), only two ahead of the Colts. They are also 30th in points allowed, averaging 28 points give up per game. Things have gotten so bad that Cedric Griffin, who has had surgery to repair both of his anterior cruciate ligaments in his knees in the past two years, was benched after allowing Titus Young to run untouched for a 57-yard touchdown on Sunday. Griffin was supposed to jam Young at the line of scrimmage, but instead was playing off the ball and didn't reroute him, and it wasn't the first time that happened to Griffin this season. \"Ced, he's been playing great ball … since he's been in the league, since he's been here. This year really probably hasn't gone the way he wanted it to, but you know he had two ACL injuries. Playing corner, that's not easy,\" said safety Jamarca Sanford. \"… It's tough on him, but we still believe in him and we know what we can do and we're just going to keep working with him. I know he's a competitor and he's going to do whatever it takes to keep getting better.\" Griffin hasn't had an interception this year, and after missing most of last season with his second torn ACL, he hasn't had an interception since 2009. Sanford, Asher Allen and Jared Allen are the only players left on the active roster that have an interception this year, and Sanford is the only player with two interceptions this year. Little is likely to change anymore this year from a personnel standpoint, but Winfield, Cook and Griffin are all under contract for next year. Winfield said he definitely wants to return. Cook has been tweeting as if he is anxious to return, although his status will likely depend on the outcome of his trial for felony domestic assault. Griffin, on the other hand, has hinted at asking for his release, and the way things have soured with him in recent months, that might not be a bad thing for either side. One is certain: With an eye toward next year, the interceptions on defense will have to take a significant step forward. 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