Notebook: Defense survives, despite yardage

Vikings defenders weren’t thrilled with the final stats, but they made enough big plays to win. Plus, get nearly 20 notes that help tell the story of the game.

While the fans left TCF Banks Stadium happy with Sunday’s wild 30-24 overtime win over the New York Jets, not everyone was jubilant in the Vikings locker room.

The game started off like it could be a game dominated by the Vikings defense, as linebacker Gerald Hodges intercepted Jets quarterback Geno Smith on the game’s first play and returned the pick for a 29-yard touchdown to give the Vikings a 7-0 lead just 12 seconds into the game.

Hodges was surprised the ball came his way because, as the ball left Smith’s hand, the two were staring each other down.

“I was taking my drop,” Hodges said. “I got my eyes on the quarterback. We’ve been practicing all week on formations. The quicker you see the formation, the quicker you can set yourself up to make the play. I don’t know if he was looking over me, but it looked like he was looking right at me. He may have been looking for the receiver to go behind me, but it was a great play – the right place at the right time.

The exhilarating start to the game didn’t last long. The Jets rolled up 410 yards of offense and ran 74 plays on the Vikings defense , including 168 rushing yards on 42 carries, which had some Vikings defenders less than thrilled with their performance.

We left too many plays on the field,” cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said. “We let them convert too many third downs (8 of 17) and have a lot of things we need to clean up. We got the win, but the defense didn’t hold up its end of the bargain.”

Although the Jets were able to move up and down the field on the Vikings, when they got close to the end zone, the Vikings defense stiffened and limited the Jets to settling for field goals. New York got in the red zone five times but came away with no touchdowns to show for it.

“That was something positive you can take away from today’s game,” linebacker Chad Greenway said. “We gave up too many big plays, but when we got backed up by the end zone, we were able to make the plays we needed to in order to keep them out of the end zone.”

It wasn’t a stylistic effort defensively, but it was enough to get the Vikings a win that pushes their record to 6-7 with three games to play.

“The bottom line is that we came away with a win,” defensive end Brian Robison said. “We can do a lot better than we did today and I’m sure we’re going to hear about it from the coaches. We have to do a lot better if we expect to win the final three games, but the ultimate goal is to win games and we did that today.”

GAME DAY NOTES

  • Despite having a game in which 54 points were scored, there wasn’t a single red zone touchdown scored. The Jets were 0-for-5 in the red zone with four field goals and a lost fumble and the Vikings only got in the red zone once and had to settle for a field goal.

  • Hodges’ interception was the first of his NFL career and resulted in his first career touchdown.

  • Sharrif Floyd aggravated his knee injury in the first half and didn’t return to the game.

  • Charlie Johnson left the game in the third quarter with an ankle injury and didn’t return – the third offensive lineman who has gone down to injury this season. He said X-rays were negative but he will have further tests and left the locker room on crutches.

  • Teddy Bridgewater threw two touchdown passes for the third straight game and for the second consecutive game he had a stellar passer rating. Over the last two games, he has posted passer ratings of 120.7 and 117.7.

  • Thanks to the 87-yard touchdown to Jarius Wright in overtime, the Vikings won the total yardage battle by the slimmest of margins 411to 410. Percy Harvin made his return to Minnesota for the first time since being traded in 2013 and had his best day as a Jet, catching six passes for 124 yards and a touchdown.

  • Harvin suffered an ankle injury late in regulation and wasn’t on the field for the final two Jets possessions.

  • Greenway took over the lead in tackles with 11 Sunday. He entered the game five tackled behind Barr, who was sidelined with a knee injury.

  • Both Greenway and Robert Blanton, who left the game late in regulation, had 11 tackles to lead the Vikings.

  • The Vikings recorded three sacks – one each from Everson Griffen, Brian Robison and Harrison Smith.

  • Matt Asiata was held in check much of the day, gaining just 54 yards on 19 carries.

  • The Vikings’ first two drives of the second half were 14 plays and 10 plays, but neither resulted in any points being scored.

  • The Jets had almost a 2-to-1 time of possession advantage in the first half, holding the ball for 19:36 of the game’s first 30 minutes

  • New York ran almost twice as many plays (39) as the Vikings (21) in the first half and outgained the Vikings 224-155 in the half.

  • Bridgewater completed seven passes before throwing his first incompletion with five minutes to play in the first half.

  • Fullback Jerome Felton scored the first touchdown of his career on a bizarre play in which Johnson caught a Bridgewater pass and, as he stuck the ball out to try to get a touchdown, he was hit and fumbled – taking a touchdown away from Johnson and Bridgewater.

  • The Jets have an 8-2 record all-time against the Vikings, including the last seven dating back to 1979. The last time prior to Sunday that the Vikings beat the Jets was in 1975.

  • Vikings fans may remember the last time the team played the Jets. New York won the game 29-20, but the Vikings were part of history as Brett Favre threw his 500th career touchdown pass that night, connecting with Randy Moss on the only scoring connection the two would have as Vikings.

  • The announced attendance Sunday was 52,152.


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