The defensive dominance started early in full-team work. Working on third downs, Christian Ponder was 2-for-3, but his final two snaps of the drive resulted in a sack by Christian Ballard and an incomplete pass to Devin Aromashodu. Joe Webb was 2-for-4 and aided by a pass interference call; Sage Rosenfels was 1-for-2 with a drop by A.J. Love; and McLeod Bethel-Thompson was 0-for-2.
It didn't get any better in short-yardage work. Safety Mistral Raymond easily intercepted Ponder's first pass there, a stare-down of tight end Rhett Ellison.
"It definitely was a play I've seen before and I anticipated it. That's the way the game goes," Raymond said. "It's all about making the best of the opportunity when you get it and catching the ball. That's what it's about. For me, it's just all about repetitions. The more repetitions, the more comfortable you'll be."
The offense ran the ball the next six snaps, appearing to come up short on most of those, before Rosenfels connected with Aromashodu for a 10-yard completion.
During goal-line work, the defense was on top of its game, with Chad Greenway stuffing a run for a 3-yard loss when Toby Gerhart tried to string out a carry to the right side on the first play. The first-team offense couldn't get in the end zone even though it started out first-and-goal from the 3-yard line.
Middle linebacker Tyrone McKenzie was the difference-maker in the second-team defense, stuffing Lex Hilliard twice – on second and third downs. The third-team offense didn't fare any better, getting stopped short on two straight Derrick Coleman runs.
Even taking the ball at midfield didn't work for the offense. Ponder's first series ended after three plays with a third-down touch sack, appearing to come from Brian Robison.
Webb picked up one first down, but his series ended when he threw a pass intended for Aromashodu that linebacker Marvin Mitchell easily picked off when there appeared to be some miscommunication between quarterback and receiver.
Ponder returned to the field and picked up two first downs, but when Kyle Rudolph had a rare drop on second down and a third-down pass fell incomplete, Ponder's day was done.
Three straight incompletions by Webb ended the second-team session, and Bethel-Thompson picked up one first down before his opportunity stalled at the 29-yard line.
Whether you want to frame it as defensive success or offensive failure, defensive end Jared Allen reiterated the defensive theme this year – consistency and executing the basics.
"Last year, our inconsistencies from half to half, you could see it – you'd blow 20-point leads and then you'd give up 20 points in the first half and then you'd come out and shut them out in the first half," Allen said. "It was one of those things where we were inconsistent in the first half. That's what we're trying to get to: Doing our basics really, really well and that will carry us through."
Everson Griffen is looking forward to proving he can play linebacker in the Vikings' preseason opener Friday night. Griffen has been playing with the third-team defense.
"I'm excited just to prove to myself. I've been doing well. Just always there's room for improvement for everybody. I've just got to go out there and keep up the hustle and keep up the good work," Griffen said.
Head coach Leslie Frazier said Griffen needs to show better consistency as he makes the transition from defensive line to linebacker – or at least Griffen is being given the opportunity to make that transition.
"He's had some good moments and some other moments where we'd like him to come a little faster," Frazier said. "We're going to give him a little time and see how he does throughout this week and even in the San Francisco game. Then we'll sit down and evaluate things after the game."
Griffen said adjusting his reads is the biggest challenge for him.
"Just reading my keys, coming downhill and just make sure you're reading run and not reading pass, just little keys like that," he said. "Just read the offensive linemen, but that comes with playing time and experience. Once preseason started, the only thing I've got to do is show them I can do it."
ABOUT THOSE SNAPS
While Jared Allen said he doesn't want his snaps reduced during the regular season, he made it clear he is just fine sitting out the first preseason game Friday night in San Francisco.
"Sundays and Mondays, not Fridays," he said about his playing time. "They gave me the first game off last year, so I've got to keep that thing going. Preseason is cool, but the third preseason game is kind of our focus, where I'm trying to get at."
Starters will usually get at least a half to play in the third preseason game, easily the most action they get during any of the four preseason games.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.