Allen sacking from both sides

Jared Allen was given the freedom to move from the right side of the defensive line to the left against Green Bay. It can mess with protection schemes and seemed to be effective, as he had 4.5 sacks. See what Allen and others had to say about the change and his big night.

As Vikings defensive end Jared Allen was swarmed by the throng of media following Monday night's win over the Packers, he had done his best to steal the thunder away from the ballyhooed first meeting between quarterbacks Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. Favre had a near-perfect night, primarily because he wasn't sacked and, according to the official statistics, was only knocked down once. Thanks in no small part to Allen, Rodgers spent much of the night on his back.

In all, Rodgers was sacked eight times – just one short of a franchise record and the highest sack total in a game by the Vikings since 1993. Allen did more than half the damage, recording a personal-best 4.5 sacks (his old record was three), forcing a fumble and breaking the franchise record for safeties caused with three. Considering the players he was tied with – Carl Eller (1964-78), Alan Page (1967-78) and Chris Doleman (1985-93, 1999) – the fact he accomplished the feat in just his 20th game was reason for celebration.

If not for the two interceptions of Saints safety Darren Sharper, one returned 99 yards for a touchdown, the Vikings likely would have had the NFC Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week honors in their win over Green Bay. So it wasn't surprising that after all he had accomplished, Allen was more than just a little bit tired.

"I'm exhausted," Allen said after the game, barely able to control his smile. "I usually feel this way the next day. It just came a little bit early. What time is it? It might be the next day already."

Having a part in five sacks is something defenders dream about, but seldom actually see. The fact it has happened to the Packers twice in the last three games is even more astounding. Antwan Odom of the Bengals got five sacks at Lambeau Field in Week 2, but Allen's was a little different.

Typically locked on to a left tackle for almost every snap, this time Allen popped from one side of the line to the other. He got sacks from both sides of the line and said his movement from left to right pre-snap wasn't part of the preparation leading up to the game, it was the confidence defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and defensive line coach Karl Dunbar have in Allen being given the autonomy to line up on the left side of the defense if he sees the potential for a mismatch. With 4.5 sacks, clearly Allen created mismatches on both sides of the line.

"The coaches gave me free reign to do what I felt like on different plays," Allen said. "He likes me going back and forth and messing with protections. It depends on the situation. Sometimes you flip to the other side and sometimes you don't. It depends on the play and what they're showing, but they give me the leeway to jump to the other side if I see something that looks good."

The fever pitch of the game had all the feel of a postseason game in January, not the first of two meetings between playoff contenders in early October. Allen said he expected the players and fans to be "geeked up" at the start of the game, but the intensity level never dropped – it was full-throttle from beginning to end. That's the way Allen likes it, because he said games like Monday's win are what makes the hours of work during the offseason that Allen endures worth the extra effort.

"I make a point to come into training camp in great shape," Allen said. "I know that I need to stay in top condition even during the offseason because you're going to have games like that and you can't run out of gas in the third quarter. That game was strange in that there never seemed to be a letup in the intensity. It started crazy like most games do, but there was never that point where you kind of settle into the flow of the game. It was up tempo and high-octane from start to finish."

Allen said at times being too ramped up can come back to haunt some players. They come out like gangbusters to start the game, but when the adrenaline wears off, some players can "blow up" – become so exhausted they can't physically keep up the pace and wear down as the game moves along. Allen said his offseason work is designed specifically to avoid making him a victim of that wearing down and that big plays are needed late in games and that is when his teammates are counting on him most to come through.

"That's what the conditioning part of football is about," Allen said. "You know you're going to get tired as the game goes along. But that is what football is all about. You have to make plays when you're tired."

Allen was a standout Monday, but has been a big-play maker since arriving in Minnesota last year. After having the most sacks for the Vikings in more than a decade with 14.5 last year, Allen has 6.5 sacks through four games this year – giving him a total of 21 sacks in 20 games as a Viking. He is the kind of player that can tip the balance of power in a close game and make the play that turns a seven-point lead into a double-digit lead in a hurry.

Linebacker Ben Leber said that is one of the things that makes the Vikings a bona fide Super Bowl contender. They have a lot of players capable of extraordinary things in a game. If you have enough of them, Leber said, you're a difficult team to beat.

"That's what's special about this team," Leber said. "We have players on both sides of the ball that make big plays to win games. In the first game, Adrian (Peterson) goes off for 180-some yards. Against Detroit, Chad (Greenway) makes a bunch of big plays and picks off two passes. Against San Francisco, Brett leads the team down the field in the final minute to win. Against Green Bay, Jared has a monster game. We won all of them because we had a lot of guys playing well and other guys just playing out of their heads. When you have difference-makers on both sides of the ball, you have a lot of guys who can contribute and make the big play that can turn a game around."

After the game, Allen said he was going to lobby during film study to have the half-sack shared with Brian Robison awarded to him. It would have given him five for the game, which would have tied a franchise record set by Randy Holloway in 1984, but said that was just part of his postgame chatter – although he was quick to reiterate his point with his trademark wink and laugh.

"I was just kidding about that," Allen said. "I'm not the type that would waste the energy to get credit for another half-sack. I did pretty well without it … but if you watch the tape, I did get there first."

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