Purple People Eaters II?

For years, it has been offense that has kept the Vikings afloat. Now it's defense that has stepped to the forefront.

The turning tide in the Vikings defense began about midseason last year. After a brief failed experiment with a 3-4 defense, the Vikings seemed to "get it" as far as playing team defense. But, with the addition of Mike Tomlin and the changeover to the Cover-2 defense, the Vikings have kicked it up another notch.

For years, the Vikings have been in the bottom third of the NFL in terms of team defense -- often times in the bottom 10-15 percent. But those days appear to be over.

Entering play Sunday, the Vikings are fifth overall in defense, allowing just 275.4 yards a game. The team is eighth in scoring defense (16.4 points a game), third in passing touchdowns allowed (3) and fourth in rushing yards allowed (74.4).

Compare that to the Vikings offense, which is 21st in scoring, 27th in passing touchdowns and 29th in rushing touchdowns. The offense has been doing just enough to keep the Vikings in games, but it has been the defense that has been winning them.

There has been a belief that if the Vikings could simply have a defense in the top half of the league that they could be legitimate Super Bowl contenders. But few if any people could have predicted a top-five defense.

* Another impressive defensive stat for the Vikings is that they lead the NFL in series in which the opponent goes three-and-out. Of 59 opponent drives, 20 have ended without a first down -- a 34 percent clip that is tops in the NFL.
* The Vikings defense has allowed only eight runs of 10 yards or more this season.
* Bethel Johnson is getting a look both at returning kicks and seeing playing time at wide receiver for Sunday's game.
* It turns out the dirty bomb scare was a hoax perpetrated by a 20-year-old from Milwaukee, who alleges he was having a competition with a friend over who could write a scarier threat. Maybe the FBI will throw him in prison for a little while so he can come away with more scary material to hone his writing skills.
* The Dolphins announced that Daunte Culpepper will remain their No. 3 quarterback and, barring a major improvement, he will remain inactive for the forseeable future.

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