The defense added two more touchdowns Sunday to their cache, which has become commonplace for the Vikings since the start last season. It has also sparked a scoring competition between the offense and defense.
Players in the Vikings locker room Sunday talked about a competition between the team's offense and defense for which unit can score more points.
Want some friendly advice? Don't put your money against the defense.
Minnesota defensive tackle Kevin Williams
(54 yards) and cornerback Antoine Winfield
(14 yards) returned interceptions for touchdowns in a 24-3 victory over Atlanta in another display of opportunistic football. If you're keeping score, the defense outscored the offense 14-10.
This was a continuation of what the Vikings started last season under then first-year coach Brad Childress and defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin. Tomlin's ability to reverse the fortunes of a unit that had struggled for several seasons helped to land him the head coaching job in Pittsburgh.
Enter former Colts assistant Leslie Frazier, who like Tomlin has studied under Indianapolis head coach and former Vikings defensive coordinator Tony Dungy. Frazier and Tomlin both preach making the most of turnovers and trying to get points whenever possible.
This isn't a mindset that turns on when the regular season begins either. The Vikings had four defensive scores, or an average of one per game, in the preseason this year.
In the 17 regular-season games that Childress has been at the helm, the Vikings now have seven touchdowns. The Vikings are 5-0 in the games in which their defense scored since the start of the 2006 season. Overall, Minnesota is 7-10 in that time.
"Every time we step on the field we expect to make a play to change the game," Winfield said. "During training camp, they stressed that if you get your hand on the ball, pick up a fumble or whatever, you should run it all the way to the end zone. We have some playmakers, too, and we know that every opportunity we have to make a play, we've got to do that."
QB Tarvaris Jackson didn't receive any rave reviews from Brad Childress for his performance Sunday against Atlanta, but for the most part the Vikings coach was pleased with how the game was managed. Jackson completed 13 of 23 passes for 163 yards with one touchdown and an interception. The touchdown came on a swing pass to Adrian Peterson that the rookie running back took 60 yards for a score.
RB Chester Taylor started Sunday but suffered a bruised oblique in the first quarter and did not return. He is receiving treatment early this week in hopes of getting him ready to play on Sunday at Detroit. Taylor likely will be limited in practice this week.
RB Adrian Peterson was expected to split carries with Taylor but ended up being the workhorse against the Falcons and rushed for 103 yards on 19 carries (a 5.4-yard average). He also scored on the 60-yard catch and run. Coach Brad Childress, though, said when Taylor is ready to return he still plans to split carries between the two players.
FB Tony Richardson suffered a bruised forearm against Atlanta but said he will be fine. Richardson's season ended last year because of a broken arm.
TE Visanthe Shiancoe caught two passes in his Vikings debut but also had a ball thrown behind him in the third quarter that he deflected into the hands of Atlanta cornerback DeAngelo Hall. Shiancoe was signed as a free agent from the New York Giants in the offseason.
WR Sidney Rice tied for the team lead with two catches in the season-opener. Jackson nearly hooked up with Rice for another completion of significant yardage but the rookie receiver was out of bounds as he caught the ball. Rice's primary role appears to be that of a possession guy.
WR Troy Williamson had two catches for 19 yards in his first regular-season game since spending time working with Nike vision consultants this offseason. Jackson tried one deep shot for Williamson but the ball was overthrown.
WR Bobby Wade made only one catch in his Vikings debut but it went for 28 yards and helped to set up kicker Ryan Longwell's 49-yard field goal in the third quarter.
WR Robert Ferguson did not play Sunday because of an ankle injury suffered in the exhibition finale against Dallas. His status for next week's game at Detroit remains uncertain.
DT Kevin Williams established a team record for most touchdowns in a career by a defensive lineman when he returned an interception for a score Sunday. That gave him three in four-plus seasons, including two fumble returns.
Rookie DE Brian Robison had two sacks in his NFL debut, bringing down Falcons quarterback Joey Harrington twice in the fourth quarter. The athletic Robison provides great speed off the edge.
S Mike Doss (calf) did some jogging Monday and was to be evaluated. Doss has been out since late August.