The Ultimate Compliment: No Challenges

Few teams have tried to run with much commitment this season against the Vikings, but the Vikings' big defensive tackle, Pat Williams, takes it as a compliment and doesn't think his lack of opportunities will hurt his reputation. Of course, there is always the chance Chicago will break the mold and challenge the Vikings' run defense.

Try as they might – and they haven't tried very hard lately – teams have had increasingly less success running the ball against the Vikings.

Minnesota's defense simply hasn't allowed one running back to get to the 100-yard mark a single time this season. In fact, the defense has only allowed two teams to rush for more than 100 yards, and both of those effort were barely above the century mark in the first two games of the season – the Washington Redskins getting 103 and the Carolina Panthers amassing 107.

So fans might think Pat Williams, the chief run stopper in the middle of the team's very effective run-plugging line, is getting frustrated as teams shy away from the run.

"It really don't matter. I just go out there and do what I try to do. If they try to run, they try to run. If they don't, they don't," Williams said.

In short, "they don't."

The Vikings' victims as the leading rushers for opponents so far this year, in order: Clinton Portis had 10 carries for 39 yards, DeAngelo Williams 13 for 74, Thomas Jones 18-54, Willis McGahee 28-78, Kevin Jones 10-8, Maurice Morris 17-49, Laurence Maroney 8-34, Frank Gore 19-41, Ahman Green 22-55, Ronnie Brown 11-5 and Edgerrin James 4-15.

Only two teams have even bothered to feed their featured runner the ball more than 20 times against the Vikings, something Williams sees as either a compliment to his defensive line or a cut on other teams' offensive lines. But he just doesn't think there is another team that has garnered the respect that the Vikings have.

"There's no team where other teams just abandon the run like that. There ain't never been no defense like that," Williams said. "I've never been around other coaches that are scared to run. They are basically saying they don't have any confidence in the offensive line that they can block us."

While Williams said he isn't frustrated with opponents' approach to the Vikings' run-thwarting abilities, cornerback Antoine Winfield said he occasionally sees a bit of disappoint from the big guys up front.

"At times you can see it on the field. Those guys want to get in there and mix it up," Winfield said. "I don't know how they do it on that front line. They're banging every play. My hat goes off to those guys, teams just aren't going to challenge them."

Many think the Chicago Bears will attempt to rush more than most against the Vikings this weekend. Thomas Jones is only 55 yards short of his second consecutive 1,000-yard season and has averaged 95.5 yards over his last eight games. Cedric Benson has also contributed with 51 yards and 46 yards rushing in Chicago's last two games.

Chicago might be the most rush-happy team the Vikings have faced in at least two months, especially considering the possibility for snow at Soldier Field on Sunday.

But if they don't, Williams will just take it as another unspoken compliment from the next opponent in line.

"That's a plus. They are basically saying that me and Kevin (Williams, the other starting defensive tackle) are the best in the business," said Pat Williams, whose 47 tackles to this point might not get him the Pro Bowl recognition he probably deserves. "If everybody sees that, they're saying, ‘They ain't running' and that's all the credit right there. They ain't even trying."

No, they ain't, but why would they?


Defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin doesn't really know what to expect from the Bears offense come Sunday, but he knows they do like to run the ball.

"That is their personality, but we have no control over how they call their game. We have to prepare ourselves to defend whatever they do," Tomlin said. "I always look forward to the challenges that Sundays present. I don't care if they run it every down, I don't care if they throw it every down. We believe in what we do, we believe in our preparation, and we believe in our men."

For his part, Tomlin didn't seem too concerned about whether teams were neutralizing Pat Williams by not running.

"Maybe it neutralizes Pat as an individual, but we are a team defensive concept," Tomlin said. "We worry very little about how situational football affects individual players. It's 11 guys that are on the grass, so from that standpoint as a coordinator, I worry very little about that. I'm more concerned about getting them stopped."


After calling Chicago center Olin Kreutz "a joke" in the past, Williams, who doesn't mind sending a barb to any offensive lineman he might face, said things are good between him and Kreutz now.

"He just goes out there to play hard and I go out there to play hard. I just go out there to win. Everything else is all cool. Last time, we talked so we're cool. We talked last time he was here, so we just go out there and play hard against each other," Williams said.

"I talk about everybody, but I go out there to have fun. If they take it serious and take it to a whole 'nother level, I don't mean no harm by it. … I just try to have fun inside the game. Basically, I'm just trying to stay positive instead of keeping everything negative inside the NFL. I'm just trying to make everybody talk about the game instead of negative stuff."

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