Sunday notebook: Winning, sacks and more

As the Vikings prepare to face a winless team, Jared Allen can empathize. He was there last year when the Chiefs went 4-12, and a look at his former team shows just how much they miss him. See what Allen had to say on that, the division title race and what Kevin Williams had to say about his race with Allen for the sacks lead.

The Detroit Lions' hard times are in the present as the only winless team in the NFL right now. Vikings defensive end Jared Allen knows what a losing team looks like, being part of the Kansas City Chiefs' 4-12 record last year.

So how are the Chiefs doing without Allen? Not well. They are 2-10 right now, but Allen is focused on his current team playing against another losing team, not his former losing team that is losing again. Allen says he doesn't keep in regular contact with many of his ex-teammates, but he feels for some of them from afar.

"I haven't talked to them in a little while. But I'm sure they're feeling the same way. They're feeling like, hell, they just want to win some game and they picked up a win against Oakland," Allen said. "I feel bad for the guys like Tony (Gonzalez) and Brian Waters and the guys that have been there – Larry (Johnson), Donnie Edwards, even Derrick Johnson. They've put the time in. They're not trying to rebuild. Young guys, they don't know anybody. It's probably what they expected coming in. But those guys are good players and I feel bad for them."

Observers only have to look at the impact that trading Allen on had on the Chiefs to understand that they are taking two steps back this season in hopes of building for better days ahead. Allen has 10.5 sacks for the Vikings this season. The Chiefs – as a team – have six. Allen is the sack leader for the Vikings. Derrick Johnson leads the Chiefs with 1.5 sacks.

"To be honest, I don't even pay attention to them. That's why I'm not there. I'm worried about what we're going to do this week and I'm trying to get to the playoffs over here," Allen said.

So now Allen's focus is on beating the bad Detroit Lions Sunday. He certainly doesn't want to give Detroit its first win, but he knows the depressing feeling of playing for a losing team.

"That sucks, man. It can be hard to go to work. But I'm sure they love playing the game of football," Allen said. "They're not going to back down. Their whole goal now – they've got a new motivation: Let's get one win. They just want to get one win. For them, when a team has got nothing to lose, that can be the most dangerous team you play. We're not going to come and take this game lightly, talk about, ‘Oh well, it's Detroit. They'll find a way to give it up.' No, look at Miami last year – they won a game and now they're – what? – like 7-5. You never look at it that way. You've got to look at it like you're going in to face the world champs."

SACK COMPETITION

As a team, the Vikings are seventh in the league with 33 sacks. Allen and Kevin Williams have been competing for the team lead.

Before the Chicago game, Williams had a half-sack lead on Allen – Williams with 8.5 and Allen with eight. After Allen was credited with 2.5 sacks against the Bears, Williams was smiling while talking about quarterback pressures he missed out on and sacks that he had that were nullified by penalties.

"I was out there and I think he had a big grin on his face when my sack didn't count, and then the one I missed when he stepped to the side, there was another big smile," Williams said. "It's all a competitive thing going on out there and we're all trying to win and have the sack lead. He's got it right now, but I'm going to give it all I've got to get it back."

Allen said his shoulder is slowly getting better after taking a beating against Tampa Bay three weeks ago.

"I'm feeling better. Every game it's the same grind, rehabbing it and getting ready to play on Sunday," Allen said. "It was beat up pretty good. I think it probably hindered me the most in that Tampa Bay game. I probably overworked it during the week and didn't do the same regimen I usually do on it. It just wasn't responding for me."

"It's getting stronger. It's always easier when you're winning and having a good time."

This week, Williams and Allen will be faced with Daunte Culpepper. Safety Darren Sharper said if he gets a crack at Culpepper, he might need some help bringing him down, a reference to Culpepper's big frame.

But Allen believes Culpepper is able to move around better this year than he did in his days in Oakland last year, when Allen faced him as a member of the Chiefs.

"Actually, he looks a little more mobile this year. He's getting rid of the ball pretty quick. Obviously, he's still trying to learn that offense," Allen said. "He looks like Daunte, as far as mechanics-wise, the same guy we played last year. It's hard to tell until you see how your game progresses. I anticipate we're going to have to stop the run and if we get up on them, then we've got to get to the quarterback. It's kind of the same thing week in and week out."

TAHI'S FORTUNE

Naufahu Tahi came into the NFL as a running back with the Cincinnati Bengals, but he's been working to become more of a fullback over the last two years. He wasn't expected to be the starter this year – that designation originally belonged to free-agent signee Thomas Tapeh – but just two games into the season Tahi became the top fullback.

Now he finds himself blocking for the NFL rushing leader in Adrian Peterson.

"It's huge. He's making me look good," Tahi said. "It's big, especially me coming into my situation. I don't think anybody else could have seen it coming. In the offseason I worked hard."

Tahi has actually lost weight while turning himself into a fullback. He was about 265 pounds as a rookie. Two years later, he's about 20 pounds lighter, but he joked that he still hasn't lost weight in his head – Tahi is often teased about the size of his head and takes it with good humor.

Even with the lost weight he says he "there are still a few plays where I try to think I'm still a tailback. I think I just need to realize I'm 250 pounds and not 200 pounds."

DIVISION RACE

The Vikings would move one step closer to a NFC North title if they can avoid being upset in Detroit and notch another division and conference win, but Allen said the team can't look ahead at the big picture.

"To be honest, I don't think we're there until we clinch the division. And I don't think we can do that for another couple games," Allen said. "So it's going to come down to the end, come down to the wire, unless, you know, Chicago goes on a losing streak – please, Chicago, go on a losing streak.

"Again, our only focus right now is we've got to beat Detroit. If we keep winning, if we win week in and week out, then we're fine. We win out, we're in first. And to stay in first, we have to win."

After the win over Chicago to take sole possession of first place in the division, Pat Williams said, "Everything is where it's supposed to be."

However, his linemate Kevin Williams preached caution.

"We've been in this position before a few years ago. We've just got to play every game like it's our last and take care of business to stay in first. That's the bottom line," Kevin said after the Vikings' win last Sunday.


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