Plenty to practice despite 6-0 start

The Vikings have a solid lead in the division and are undefeated, but they have plenty to work on after their defense collapsed in the final period.

The Vikings remained undefeated Sunday, improving to 6-0 with a 33-31 victory over the Baltimore Ravens, but that doesn't mean there aren't some concerns as Minnesota gets set to play the Steelers in Pittsburgh this weekend.

Chief among the worries is the fact the Vikings gave up 222 yards to the Ravens, including 196 through the air, in the final 15 minutes of a game they led by 17 at one point in the final quarter.

Baltimore rallied to take a one-point lead before the Vikings got a Ryan Longwell field goal with 1:56 left for what proved to be the final margin. However, that was only because Baltimore's Steve Hauschka missed a 44-yard attempt wide left as time expired.

"We've got to clean our fourth quarter up," Vikings defensive end Jared Allen said. "This is a game where in every facet of the game we were dominant, offense, defense and special teams. I think we gave up 17 yards rushing in the first quarter. It wasn't a meltdown because we didn't lose. But it was pretty damn close."

The game marked the third in a row in which the Vikings have given up at least 400 yards in total offense — the Ravens finished with 448 — and there is little doubt that will come back to haunt the Vikings if that continues.

Part of the problem Sunday, and what might become a long-range concern, is the well-being of Pro Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield. Winfield suffered an injury to his right foot in the second quarter and was due to undergo an MRI on his foot on Monday.

The Vikings can ill afford to lose Winfield, who is one of the NFL's hardest-hitting cornerbacks and is extremely sound in his technique.

Against the Ravens, the Vikings were forced to go with backup Karl Paymah, who was signed as a free agent this offseason in large part because of his abilities on special teams. Paymah isn't even used in the Vikings' nickel package and it would figure to be a significant drop-off if he had to replace Winfield for any amount of time.

The Vikings find themselves in the midst of a difficult three-game stretch that started with the Ravens and will include games at Pittsburgh and Green Bay before the team has its bye in Week 9.

The Steelers game will be the Vikings' first true road test of the season and comes after they have won games at Cleveland, Detroit and St. Louis. Those three teams now sit at a combined 2-16 this season.

The defending Super Bowl champions, who are coached by former Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin, are coming off a 27-14 victory over the lowly Browns and are tied atop the AFC North with Cincinnati.

LINEUP WATCH: Right tackle Phil Loadholt returned on Sunday after missing the previous week's game against St. Louis because of a sprained left ankle. The rookie did not appear to have any issues with his ankle in the victory over the Ravens.

BY THE NUMBERS: 6 — Times the Vikings have started 6-0 in their franchise history, including this season. The Vikings also were 6-0 in 2003. They started 7-0 in 2000 and 1998; 9-0 in 1973; and 10-0 in 1975.


  • WR Percy Harvin re-injured his left shoulder Sunday against the Ravens returning a kickoff in the fourth quarter when he ended up at the bottom of a pile. Harvin, who injured the shoulder a week earlier at St. Louis after making a second-quarter reception, ended up underneath a pile of tacklers. He left the Metrodome on Sunday with his arm in a sling.

  • RB Adrian Peterson gave the Vikings a scare in the fourth quarter Sunday when he twisted his ankle after catching a screen pass. Peterson limped off the field but was able to return and is expected to be OK. He rushed for 143 yards, marking the first time in five games he has gone over 100 yards.

  • WR Sidney Rice had the first 100-yard receiving game of his career, catching six passes for 176 yards on Sunday. That included a 63-yard connection that is Brett Favre's longest completion of the season.

  • QB Brett Favre had a 136.9 passer rating against Baltimore, marking his best rating for a game since he had a 142.4 rating on Oct. 29, 2007 at Denver.

  • WR Darius Reynaud was inactive for a third consecutive game because of a hamstring injury. It's uncertain when Reynaud will be able to return.

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