Vikings Facing Blitzing Conundrum

The Vikings' base defensive scheme, the Tampa-2, calls for heavy pressure applied by the front, but they haven't always succeeded in getting that.

The Vikings defense spent much of last season ranked No. 1 against the run, and it has returned to that standing through 11 weeks of this season. But the pass defense, just as it was last season, is ranked last in the league.

Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier is facing many of the same problems that Mike Tomlin did a year ago when he served as Minnesota's coordinator before getting the head-coaching job in Pittsburgh. Namely, that the Vikings struggle to get consistent pressure from their front four despite the fact the Tampa-2 scheme calls for it.

That's why in two of the past three games, Frazier seems to be accepting the fact he needs to send more blitzes.

Frazier called for heavy pressure against the Chargers' Philip Rivers on Nov. 4, and it helped the Vikings record a 35-17 victory. Last Sunday against Oakland, Frazier again dialed up pressure, and the Vikings won by 29-22.

Two weeks ago when Frazier did not call for as much pressure because the Vikings were facing veteran quarterback Brett Favre, the Packers had their way with the Vikings to the tune of a 34-0 blowout.

The guess here is Frazier is going to feel the need to keep pressure coming from linebackers and safeties on Sunday against the Giants and Eli Manning.

NOTES

  • Vikings TE Visanthe Shiancoe, who was signed as a free agent during the offseason, spent his first four seasons with the Giants after being a third-round pick of the team in 2003. He spent his time serving as a backup to Jeremy Shockey.

  • S Darren Sharper earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors when he tied a team record with three interceptions, including one he returned 92 yards for a touchdown, in a 24-21 victory over the Giants in 2005. He finished the game with a franchise-record 123 interception return yards. That day the Vikings became the first team in NFL history to score on interception, punt (Mewelde Moore, 71 yards) and kickoff (Koren Robinson, 86 yards) returns in a game.

  • The Vikings and Giants did not play in 2006, marking the first time since 1998 the teams did not meet in a season.

  • One of the most famous games between these teams was the Giants' 41-0 victory in the 2000 NFC title game. New York quarterback Kerry Collins threw five touchdown passes in the biggest rout in NFC championship history. The Vikings gave up 518 yards and 31 first downs and had only 114 yards and nine first downs.

  • The Vikings and Giants also met in NFC wild-card games in 1993 and 1997. The Giants won 17-10 in 1993, and the Vikings won 23-22 in 1997. Both games were played at Giants Stadium.

  • In the 1997 meeting, the Vikings trailed 22-13 with 90 seconds to play but managed to rally to earn their first playoff victory since 1988. The Vikings comeback included a touchdown, a successful onside kick and a winning 24-yard field goal by Eddie Murray.

  • QB Fran Tarkenton began his career with the Vikings in 1961 and played with the team until 1967, when he was dealt to New York. His stint with the Giants lasted until 1972, when he was traded back to the Vikings. Tarkenton led the Vikings to three Super Bowls, but Minnesota did not win any of them.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 79 — The yardage on WR Sidney Rice's pass to TE Visanthe Shiancoe on the first play from scrimmage Sunday against the Raiders. It marked the longest pass by a non-quarterback in Vikings history.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "It didn't matter who I was playing against. All week, all I told our guys was just to have fun. Don't worry about our record. Just go out there and have fun. I want them smiling every day, joking around with everyone every day. Do whatever it takes to keep things hungry. We had nothing to lose and everything to win." — Pro Bowl nose tackle and team leader Pat Williams talking about the tempo he tried to set last week after the Vikings' 34-0 loss at Green Bay. Minnesota rebounded with a 29-22 victory over Oakland.


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