Vikings Pleased with Defense

After giving up only 192 total net yards to the Chicago Bears, the Vikings were happy with a defense that predominantly featured a 3-4 alignment.

Looking for any positives in a season filled with disappointments, Vikings coaches came away from Sunday's 28-3 loss in Chicago pointing to the play of the defense.

Coordinator Ted Cottrell went with a 3-4 alignment for 98 percent of the game, largely because the Vikings were so thin on the line. Starting left defensive end Kenechi Udeze is out for the season after having knee surgery and backup Spencer Johnson also at out because of a knee injury.

That caused the Vikings to begin working more diligently with a 3-4 in practice last week after they returned from the bye. Not wanting to give away their secret, the Vikings went through pre-game warm-ups in a 4-3 and even had end Lance Johnstone on the field just before the first snap. Johnstone ran off at the last second as the additional linebacker took his place.

Bears quarterback Kyle Orton passed for only 117 yards and Chicago rushed for 95 yards as a team. While the Bears scored 28 points, one touchdown came after Daunte Culpepper's interception was returned to the Minnesota 3, and another was set up when Culpepper was sacked on his own 1-yard line when the Vikings went for it on fourth-and-9 from their own 12 late in the fourth quarter.

The alignment featured Kevin Williams and Darrion Scott at the ends and Pat Williams at nose tackle. Raonall Smith and Keith Newman, both new to the starting lineup, joined Sam Cowart and E.J. Henderson as the linebackers.

Pat Williams thrived in the 3-4, finishing tied for the team lead with seven tackles and also forcing a fumble. The performance was all the more impressive because it came against Chicago's standout center Olin Kreutz.

"Pat Williams played one of the best games that I have ever seen a nose tackle play," Vikings coach Mike Tice said.

It remains unclear when Johnson will return, meaning the Vikings could continue to use the 3-4 as their primary look. "I don't know that right now we have much choice, because we don't have anybody else and there is nobody on the street who is going to come in and play at the level of the guys that we have," Tice said.

"I like what we did yesterday to be honest with you. I know we allowed 28 points, but I think they had one drive of one yard, one drive of three yards and then that 50-yard drive. As I look at the overall defense yesterday, there were a lot more good things than there were bad things for probably the first time than the New Orleans game."


  • RG Marcus Johnson and TE Richard Owens both suffered concussions Sunday playing on special teams, but should be fine.

  • DE Lance Johnstone suffered a "stinger" in his right arm in the first quarter against Chicago but was able to return.

  • WR Nate Burleson, who has missed the past three games with a sprained left knee, said he will return Sunday against Green Bay.

  • DE Spencer Johnson plans to be back after missing Sunday's loss at Chicago because of a medial collateral sprain in his right knee. Coach Mike Tice did not sound as confident, pointing out that both of Johnson's knees are aching.

  • CB Brian Williams (sprained left knee) said he will attempt to practice this week and hopes to return against Green Bay on Sunday. If that does not happen, Williams definitely will be back the following week at Carolina.

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