There were a number of factors as to why the Vikings played better on Sunday. Minimizing mistakes was at the forefront.
Mike Tice pointed to a lack of mental errors as a key reason the Vikings were able to roll to a 27-14 victory over the Detroit Lions
One area that was especially evident was the penalty calls. The Vikings had only three flags thrown against them and for the first time in 2005, the offense was not called for an infraction.
The Vikings have struggled with penalties all season and have had local officials monitoring the team portion of their practices in an attempt to cut down on the flags. Still, they were called for 10 infractions in their 38-13 loss to Carolina a week earlier.
The defense also showed big improvement after a sub-par performance against the Panthers. Tice seemed pleased after watching the film.
"I take solace in the fact that we didn't make as many mental errors, our low number of mental errors on defense for the season," he said. "We've all said on paper we have some talent. But on paper doesn't win any games, you have to play on the field. When you come out and the coaches say in the staff meeting it was the low number of mental errors for the season, then you had a good week.
"Let's make it a low number this week. How about we strive for none? Let's do none. I like the sound of that. We had no penalties offensively. How about this week we go for no mental errors on defense?"
Although Tice did not say how many mental errors the Vikings made, he indicated a "low number" was fewer than eight.
Linebacker Keith Newman praised defensive end Lance Johnstone, who had two of the Vikings' four sacks against Detroit. "He came out and had another monster game with two sacks," Newman said. "That says a lot for a guy that really plays situationally. Third down, some second-and-long. So you have to say that the guy is doing a great job of maximizing his opportunities when he gets them. You have to take your hat off to Lance. He does a great job on the end, and I really respect the guy."
The Vikings are 0-4 on the road this season, and will face another test Sunday against the New York Giants. Running back Michael Bennett knows it won't be easy. "They're playing really good football right now," Bennett said. "Eli Manning is playing great, their defense is playing great, so we have another tough challenge and it's not going to be easy. But I think if we just play our game and go out there and execute, we will be fine."
Right tackle Mike Rosenthal on Michael Bennett's 106-yard rushing performance against the Lions: "I want to give him all the credit. There were times when he was running to the left, I'd get my guy and I'd look up to see where he was, and he's be dragging three or four guys. I think he showed a lot of determination, a lot of burst and a lot of vision, seeing those holes when we didn't move anyone."
WR Koren Robinson appears to be the leading candidate to return punts on Sunday against the Giants if Mewelde Moore can't go.
CB Fred Smoot should be fine, despite aggravating a right shoulder strain that he suffered a week earlier at Carolina. Smoot left the game for one series in the third quarter, but was able to return.
QB Daunte Culpepper continues to wait for swelling in his right knee to go down before surgery can be performed. Culpepper tore the anterior cruciate, medial collateral and posterior cruciate ligaments in his right knee against Carolina and will need at least nine months of rehabilitation once the surgery is performed.
RB Moe Williams, who missed Sunday's game because of a back and knee injuries, continues to undergo treatment.