The Vikings defense is at both ends of the spectrum when it comes to its performance against the run and the pass this season.
Thanks in large part (figuratively and literally) to tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams, Minnesota has the NFL's top-ranked run defense with an average of 54.5 yards allowed per game. If the Vikings are able to hold the St. Louis Rams to fewer than 152 yards rushing Sunday, they would break the modern-day NFL mark of 60.6 yards a game set by the 2000 Ravens.
The Vikings pass defense, meanwhile, is 32nd and last in the league. Minnesota has surrendered 238 yards per game through the air and figures to be tested often by a Rams offense that includes quarterback Marc Bulger (4,053 yards passing, 23 touchdowns), receiver Torry Holt (84 receptions, 10 touchdowns) and running back Steven Jackson (88 receptions).
That will be especially true with the Vikings thin at cornerback because of injuries to Cedric Griffin and Fred Smoot. Antoine Winfield will start at left corner, and it looks as if rookie Charles Gordon will start on the right side. However, defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin said that safety Dwight Smith could be moved to corner, meaning Greg Blue might start alongside Darren Sharper at safety.
No matter what, the Vikings will be stretched thin.
Tomlin realizes his pass defense has its shortcomings but bristles at the suggestion that it is the worst in the NFL.
"I'm not going to try to paint a rosy picture in regards to our pass defense; it is what it is," he said. "We don't make any excuses about anything, but people that know what they are taking about understand that we are not the worst pass defense team in football. We defend more passes than anyone else. We are first in the league in red-zone defense, we are fourth in the league in touchdown passes given up, we are seventh in the league in yards per attempt or completion, etc., etc., etc. People throw more passes against us than anybody else.
"The quarterback comes out and throws 25 passes and throws for 220, or he comes out and throws 51 like he throws against us for 280. You be the judge. Our tape stands on its own. We stand behind our tape. Do we need to get better? Heck yes, because we want to be number one in every statistical category because it's going to help our team win."
Tomlin Defends Pass Defense
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