Russell Joins Record Books

For much of the off-season and preseason, when the name Brian Russell was mentioned, casual Vikings fans typically responded "who?" Six games into the 2003 season, the NFL now knows who Russell is.

When asked by VU about tying a franchise record with six straight games with an interception, he was reminded that he tied a team record set by Paul Krause -- the all-time NFL interception leader -- Brian Russell was understandably humbled.

"It's an honor to be mentioned in the same breath as him," Russell told VU.

But now the two are forever linked in Vikings lore. In 1968, Krause had interceptions in six straight games. Russell tied that mark Sunday and can set a franchise record next week with a pick vs. the Giants.

While defensive additions like Chris Claiborne, Denard Walker, Ken Irvin and Kevin Williams have received more recognition, Russell has made his mark with this team -- and in the history books.

* For the record, Russell is two shy of the all-time NFL record of eight straight games with an interception, set by Tom Morrow over eight games spanning the 1962-63 seasons. Ironically, Krause also had a seven-game streak of interceptions in 1964 while with the Redskins. Of the four players in league history with seven straight games with picks, one name may surprise you -- former Cowboys coaching legend Tom Landry, who had seven games with interceptions over the 1950-51 seasons while playing for the Giants.
* With three interceptions Sunday, the Vikings have 16 this year. That equals both the total from last year and the total from the 2000-01 seasons combined.
* The Vikings' 16 interceptions leads the NFL.
* Daunte Culpepper had a QB rating of 133.0 Sunday. Entering the game, he and Gus Frerotte had the highest QB ratings of any passers with more than 10 attempts.
* In contrast, before sustaining a dislocated finger that caused many fans to audibly gasp and groan, Steve Beuerlein had a QB rating of 28.1 Sunday.
* Mike Tice told VU that the Broncos gave the Vikings offensive line as big a beating as any team this year. That comment was evident in the Vikings' team rushing total -- 22 carries for 72 yards and one TD.
* Culpepper wasn't part of the rushing attack. Known for his big gains on the ground, Culpepper was credited with two runs -- a QB sneak on a third-and-inches play and a kneeldown at the end of the game for a 1-yard loss.
* The Vikings have attempted just nine field goals in six games -- a stat brought to you by fantasy football players everywhere.
* By giving up 10 points in the fourth quarter, the Vikings have now been outscored by their opponents in the final quarter by a 37-29 margin. However, that's the good news for Vikings opponents. The bad news is that the Vikes hold a scoring edge of 38-19 in the first quarter, 69-31 in the second quarter and 43-17 in the third quarter. VU has been told that the first and third quarter stats -- allowing just six points a game in those quarters -- is a testament to the immediate adjustments George O'Leary has made with his defense.
* Randy Moss, aside from making one of the most spectacular plays in league history with his out-of-time lateral to Moe Williams that may well have won Sunday's game, is on pace for the record books. If he continues at his current pace, Moss will catch 104 passes for 1,776 yards and 16 TDs. Moss already holds the top team records for yards receiving in a season -- 1,437 yards in 2000 and 1,413 yards in 1999. His 666 yards after six games is on pace to shatter his own team record and approach Jerry Rice's record of 1,848 yards set in 1995.
* The Vikings had three fumbles Sunday but didn't lose any of them.
* Tice told VU that 93 percent of teams with a defensive touchdown win their games. While that number seems a little high for our taste, we'll take his word for it.
* As salty as Tice gets with VU for questioning his clock management, somebody has to call out Mike Shanahan. With 1:07 to play and facing a third-and-5, Denver is hit with a false start penalty. With the play clock re-set, the Broncos had almost a full minute to call a play. Instead, they call a time out -- their last. What do they do? Run Clinton Portis for no gain. By the time they snapped the ball again, just 35 seconds remained. Even if Denver had got a first down, if the player had been brought down in bounds, the game likely would have been very close to over anyway. VU backs off of Tice a little here. Even a proclaimed "genius" can trip over his dog occasionally.

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