Personnel Analysis: Defense (Week #13)

The Vikings tended to business on the road, jumping to an early lead that ended with a 27-7 victory against the San Francisco 49ers. Here's a player-by-player analysis of the defense…


It was a below-average (for the Vikings defense) performance against the run as they allowed 73 yards rushing on 20 attempts (3.7 avg.).  They didn’t give up any big gainers, but Frank Gore proved difficult to bring down as he gained 68 yards on 16 attempts (4.3 avg.).  Against the pass, the defense flustered starter Trent Dilfer until he was knocked out of the game late in the first half.  Prior to that, Dilfer had completed just 7-of-19 passes (36.8%) for just 45 yards with one interception (returned for a touchdown) and a passer rating of just 23.4.  Ex-Viking Shaun Hill fared much better statistically, posting a passer rating of 90.6, but his stats were deceptive as the Vikings were sitting on a 27-0 lead when he entered the fray.  Even so, they allowed just 7 points with the ‘Niners controlling the ball slightly more than half the time (31:47).

Defensive Line:

DT Kevin Williams got the Vikings off to a strong start with an interception that he returned for an 18-yard score on the second play of the game.  Williams was also disruptive at times the rest of the way.  He finished with just one tackle (for a one-yard loss), but also added another pass deflection and a quarterback hurry.

NT Pat Williams had another strong, impact outing that included 5 tackles, 1 sack (for a 9-yard loss), 1 interception (with a 1-yard return), 1 quarterback hurry and a pass deflection.  Big Pat blew past former All-Pro guard Larry Allen on his sack.  He was very active against the running game.

LDE Kenechi Udeze did not stand out but made some plays.  He also lined up at right end a few times.  He finished with one tackle and a quarterback hurry.

Rookie Brian Robison got the start at right end with Ray Edwards suspended and Erasmus James landing on injured reserve.  He was active with 5 tackles and also had 2 tackles-for-loss, a couple quarterback hurries and one knockdown.

Considering he joined the team just this past Wednesday, signed off the Carolina Panthers practice squad, DE Otis Grigsby was extremely productive in limited action.  He finished with 1 tackle, a 5-yard sack, 1 forced fumble and 2 quarterback hurries.

DE Jayme Mitchell (2 tackles) also got some snaps at left end, and Spencer Johnson also got his rotation of snaps inside at defensive tackle and collected a fumble recovery on the Grigsby sack.  Rookie Conrad Bolston, activated from the practice squad with Fred Evans suspended, got his first NFL game action and recorded 1 tackle and a forced fumble.


Chad Greenway led the team in tackles this week with a hand in 11 stops.  He was also credited with one quarterback hurry and had two knockdowns on the blitz.

E.J. Henderson (4 tackles) was on the receiving end of two turnovers with a pair of fumble recoveries.  He also broke up one pass in coverage.

Ben Leber had 6 tackles and forced a fumble.  He did miss one tackle when he delivered a hard hit but failed to wrap up.

Dontarrious Thomas, Heath Farwell and Vinny Ciurciu played exclusively on special teams.  Recently promoted from the practice squad, David Herron was inactive.

Defensive Back:

LCB Antoine Winfield returned to the starting lineup and showed no ill effects from a hamstring problem that had kept him out.  Winfield finished with 6 tackles.  He was step-for-step in coverage and made some nice tackles.  He did get juked badly by Gore on one run where he whiffed on the tackle attempt – a rare occurrence for Winfield.  He was also flagged for illegal contact on a play that involved offsetting penalties.

RCB Cedric Griffin had one of his best games of the season.  He finished with 5 tackles, but added 3 pass breakups and one forced fumble.  Griffin was tight in coverage and played the ball as well as he has all season.  He was also very physical as a tackler.

SS Darren Sharper was in on 5 tackles.  He didn’t have many opportunities in the passing game but was in the picture for deep coverage on one attempt downfield.  He did miss on one tackle when he failed to wrap up.

FS Dwight Smith had 4 tackles.  Smith was vulnerable on one quick slant on which the 49ers failed to make the connection but was otherwise there for the wrap up tackle on mostly underneath completions.

Charles Gordon saw a lot of action as the nickel corner and finished with 4 tackles on defense, but he did miss on one.

Marcus McCauley played sparingly and did not record any official statistics.

Ronyell Whitaker saw limited duty.  Eric Frampton played only on special teams.  Safeties Mike Doss and Tank Williams were inactive.

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