The Vikings defense was saddled with some bad situations, but they didn't allow as much scoring as could have happened. They held on despite the Rams getting into Minnesota territory often. Plus, get more than two dozen game notes from the Vikings' 27-13 win.
The Vikings have made themselves a big-play defense this season and, after being among the worst in the league in the giveaway/takeaway ratio, the Vikings suddenly are becoming one of the league's best and most opportunistic defenses. They truly needed it Sunday, as the defense stepped up as big as it has during the current six-game winning streak.
For the game, St. Louis had the ball on 16 drives. The Rams' average starting position was their own 39. On 12 of those drives, St. Louis got into Vikings territory and on another they got to their own 49-yard line. But when the game was over, all they had to show for it was three scores – one touchdown and two field goals.
"We've been a big-play defense that creates pressure up front and takes advantage of the mistakes they make when they force the ball," Corey Chavous
told VU. "We knew if we got pressure on (rookie Ryan Fitzpatrick
) they we could get him to throw passes that we could get our hands on."
Perhaps more important were the five drives in which the Rams didn't cross the midfield stripe. Two of them were three-and-out drives and the other three were all interceptions.
"We've thought all along that this defense was going to be something special," Antoine Winfield
said. "It didn't look like it earlier in the season, but everyone held together and it's starting to show up now."
The Vikings' five interceptions Sunday was one short of the team record set vs. Tampa Bay in 1988 and vs. Pittsburgh in 1995.
Thanks to playing from behind by 14 points for the final quarter-and-half, the Rams ended up on the better end of the final stats. They had more first downs than the Vikings (20-16), more total yards (337-259) and more passing yards (229-146).
The Vikings haven't allowed more than 17 points in their last four games and five of the games during the six-game winning streak.
The Vikings and Rams each scored six points in the second quarter, which was fine with the Minnesota fans. For the season, the Vikings have been outscored 126-65 in the second quarter.
Despite winning six in a row and having an 8-5 record, the Vikings have still been outscored by their opponents by 40 points this year (286-246).
Punter Darren Bennett was booed loudly on occasion Sunday for some short, low kicks. He had eight punts Sunday and averaged 37.5 yards – the same average that Paul Edinger had in two punts when Chris Kluwe got hurt a week ago.
Rams receiver Torry Holt had 10 catches for 95 yards – going over the 600-reception mark for his career. Teammate Isaac Bruce, who caught five passes for 66 yards, went over the 800-reception mark for his career.
The battle for the receiving yardage leader for the Vikings in 2005 tightened up Sunday. Jermaine Wiggins caught three passes for 18 yards to bring his season total to 57 catches for 500 yards. Marcus Robinson caught just one pass, but it was 49 yards to put him in second with 473 yards – passing Travis Taylor, who had one catch for eight yards to leave him at 468 yards.
Nate Burleson is currently seventh on the team in receiving yards with just 212.
Brad Johnson added his name to the team and NFL record books again Sunday. His 21st win as a starter tied him for sixth in team history with Warren Moon. The win was also the 64th of his career – tying him for 50th all-time with former Ram and Saint Jim Everett. He also passed Ken O'Brien into 49th place for all-time passing yardage. Next in his sights is Joe Theismann who is in 48th place with 25,206 yards – just 46 yards ahead of Johnson's total.
Darren Sharper recorded his NFC-leading eighth interception Sunday. He briefly pulled into a tie for the NFL lead, but Deltha O'Neal of Cincinnati picked off his ninth pass of the season Sunday vs. Cleveland.
Rams running back Steven Jackson had a long run of just eight yards Sunday and finished the day with only 67 yards on 19 carries.
Johnson completed 16 passes Sunday to nine different receivers.
25 of the Vikings' 113 rushing yards came on three attempts from wide receivers. Vikings running backs ran the ball 25 times for 89 yards.
The Vikings offense continues to struggle on third down. On Sunday, they converted just two of 12 third-down situations.
Despite both quarterbacks being hit and knocked down often, the teams combined for just one sack – a sack by Darrion Scott in the first half.
Antoine Winfield again led the team with nine tackles – all of them solo tackles.
Mike Tice had spoken during the week about trying to keep Leonard Little from a factor. In the most recent meeting with the Rams, Little had four sacks. Sunday he had four tackles.
Thanks to his five interceptions, Fitzpatrick finished the game with a passer rating of just 32.4.
The Vikings second-quarter woes continued somewhat. Despite not allowing a touchdown, the Rams held the ball for almost 10 minutes of the second quarter.
Koren Robinson tied a 21-year-old team record with his 61-yard kickoff return in the second quarter – the least games (13) to reach 1,000 career return yards. He tied the record previously held alone by Buster Rhymes.
The Vikings lost linebacker Keith Newman with a right knee injury in the second quarter. His status will be evaluated and updated Monday.
The Vikings dominated the first quarter statistically. They had a 8:07-to-6:53 advantage in time of possession and had six first downs to one for the Rams. The Vikings ran ball six times for 39 yards and completed seven of eight passes for 43 yards. Meanwhile, the Rams had just 37 total yards – 21 rushing on six carries and 16 yards through the air.
With a 10-yard run in the first quarter, Michael Bennett became the eighth player in team history to top 3,000 career yards rushing.
Koren Robinson's rushing touchdown was the first of his career on the ground and his third as a Viking – one rushing, one receiving and on a return.
Robinson became just the fourth Vikings wide receiver to score a rushing touchdown. The last one was by Anthony Carter in 1992.
The first scoring drive of the game was officially eight plays, but included five first downs.
Prior to the first scoring drive of the game, the Rams had the ball twice and the Vikings once with the longest drive lasting one minute, 56 seconds.
The paid attendance Sunday was 64,005 – the 82nd straight sellout at the Metrodome.