The Minnesota Vikings' 34-27 win over the Washington Redskins not only gave the Vikings only their second win of the season, it also ended a negative streak for a much-maligned defense.
The Vikings trailed in Thursday night's game 27-14 in the middle of the third quarter and scored the final 20 points of the game. It wouldn't seem like much to hold an opponent scoreless for an entire quarter, as the Vikings did in the fourth quarter, but it was a long time coming.
The last time the Vikings shut out an opponent for one quarter was the third period of their game against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 22, far more than a month in the rear-view mirror. Minnesota's streak of 24 straight quarters of being scored upon was the longest within one season for an NFL team since the 1981 Colts gave up points in 36 consecutive quarters, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"I haven't thought much about how long it's been since we held a team scoreless, but it's good that it happened (Thursday) night," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "We needed that, perfect time.
"But the things that happened, guys were just in position to make plays and made plays. Our tackling improved in the second half and there we were once again in position on defense to get a stop to win the game and our guys found a way to make it happen. That happens in the National Football League and fortunately for us we found a way. But it was more of being in a position and making a play when you have a chance to make a play."
The Vikings were in a position to make plays in the first half, too, but in each of the Washington's first three drives the Vikings had at least one missed tackle that contributed to longer gains and extending drives. After three possessions, the Redskins had 17 points and had run a combined 31 plays. By halftime, they had scored on all four possessions – three touchdowns and a field goal for a 24-14 lead.
"It's just basic, fundamental football. I was just missing too many (tackles)," said LB Chad Greenway, one of several offenders. "If you want to play good defense, you can't have those."
By halftime, the Redskins had 24 points, making it the ninth straight game this year the Vikings have allowed at least 23 points, and 29 of 40 games since the beginning of 2011, tied for most in the NFL, according to ESPN. QB Robert Griffin III had thrown more touchdowns in the first half against the Vikings' 29th-ranked pass defense than he did in the first half of his first eight games combined.
"We've just got to go out and play," DT Kevin Williams said about the halftime talk among players. "We either go out there and get beat down or we step up and make it a game."
But the scoring finally stopped after the Redskins opened the second half with a field goal drive and the Vikings were able to score 20 unanswered points in the win.
Still, after this weekend of play, one decent fourth quarter can't erase the trail of terrible defense during the first half of the season. Through Sunday night's game, the Vikings are 30th in total defense, 29th in net passing yards per game, 26th in sacks per pass play, 30th in first downs allowed per game, 32nd in third-down efficiency, 28th in fourth-down efficiency and 30th in points per 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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