Brian Robison is on a roll and in a competition with "the master," Jared Allen.
With two sacks on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, Robison set a career high with nine sacks in a single season, but his bookend on the other side of the defensive line also had two sacks, bringing Allen to nine sacks on the season as well. It's become quite the late-season competition between the two of them.
"It's definitely become a heated rivalry here lately. Both of us are obviously trying to get to 10 and both of us are obviously trying to fight for the lead right now," Robison said after the Vikings beat Philadelphia, 48-30. "It's become a heated rivalry, but I couldn't be happier for that guy. That guy has meant so much in my career as far as helping me out.
"It's one of those deals where I guess the student is trying to beat the master."
Allen arrived in Minnesota in 2008 after the Vikings traded first- and third-round picks to the Kansas City Chiefs to obtain him. Since then he has led the Vikings in sacks every season – 14.5 in 2008 and 2009, 11 in 2010, 22 in 2011, and 12 last year.
Robison, a fourth-round pick by the Vikings in 2007, has often been in second place on the team but has never broken the double-digit mark, a stated goal for both of them. They are both making a late-season surge toward that objective.
Robison has posted eight sacks in the past seven games and has six sacks in the five games, including at least one in each of the last five.
If Robison and Allen each get to 10 sacks, they would be the first Vikings tandem to do that since Kevin Williams (12) and Lance Johnstone (11) in 2004.
The Philadelphia game was especially satisfying, as each of them had two sacks of QB Nick Foles.
"I think it was a combination of things. I think the combination of things is we had a lead on him so he had to go deep to try to get some points on the board," Robison said. "And then the second thing was we did a heck of a job stopping their run so they had to have the ball in his hands. And then the third thing is we didn't just let him sit there and pat the ball. We got after him a little bit and got in his face. There was a few times he was able to sit there and go through his reads and his checkdowns, but bottom line is we got in his face. Anytime you can get in the quarterback's face, it gets him out of his rhythm a little bit."
Robison has become a more complete pass rusher this season. He is among the league leaders for quarterback pressures and hits and is closing in on the record for most passes defenses by a Vikings defensive lineman. He has eight, two shy of Kevin Williams' mark of 10 from 2004. According to Pro Football Focus, in addition to his two sacks, Robison tallied a quarterback hit and seven hurries for his first 10-pressure game of the season.
He has two more chances to add to the statistics this season, starting Sunday in Cincinnati, where head coach Marvin Lewis knows well the trouble Allen and Robison can cause.
"On defense they get after the quarterback. They really rush the passer well. Robison and Jared are playing well. They're doing a great job. They're big and strong inside, those two guys. They're impressive to watch on tape," Lewis said Tuesday.
Asked about Robison specifically and what makes him troubling to offensive linemen, Lewis said: "Speed and tenacity. He just stays after the quarterback. Really plays hard. He reminds me a lot of the guy who played for me in Baltimore, Mike McCrary, who just plays flat hard all the time."
It's been years of hard work for Robison to get to this level, but he has a legitimate chance to become the first Viking since 2008 not named Allen to lead the team in sacks. For him, that would be a rush.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Robison on a roll, already at career high
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