In the Vikings' first preseason game, players like Jared Allen, Kevin Williams and Antoine Winfield were given the night off. The result was hideous. The San Francisco 49ers ran for 260 yards – 156 of it coming in their first two drives against the first-team Vikings defense.
To say defensive coordinator Alan Williams was upset about the performance of his run defense was an understatement. The Vikings came into Friday's game looking to get back to respectability which, defensively speaking, used to be predicated on being one of the best run defenses in the league.
"There was a huge emphasis on that this week," Allen said. "You had to put it in perspective. A group of us didn't play, but that wasn't an excuse. I don't care whether it's practice, 260 yards is unacceptable. Tonight, the emphasis wasn't so much on stopping the run, but doing your job and finishing – whatever your technique was on that play, whatever your gap responsibility was, just do your job and finish to the best of your ability."
The Vikings themselves were stunned by how the 49ers gashed them in the preseason opener. The result Friday night was much more in keeping with what the team and their fans are accustomed to. Buffalo, which is known as a strong running team led by Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, was limited to 68 yards on 20 carries – a scant 3.4 yards per rushing attempt. Jackson and Spiller combined for just 24 yards on seven carries and, in the first quarter, Buffalo was held to minus-6 yards rushing.
"That's what we expect from our defense," defensive end Brian Robison said. "We've played the run well for so long, that's just kind of our standard now. With all the starters in, we decided to make a point to show all the young guys how it's done and I believe we did that."
Not only did the starters get the job done, but the entire Vikings defense – from the first line of the depth chart to the last – came through, giving the Vikings a complete defensive domination of the run game. That is what is expected from a team that has made that a hallmark of its defense for the last decade.
"Guys showed up tonight," Allen said. "Whether it was the first team, the second team, the third team, everybody stepped up. They never got any traction in the running game and it was like the Vikings football everyone is used to."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Run defense becomes point of pride again
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