Notebook: CB Allen can relate to Cowboys

Vikings rookie Asher Allen has a significant connection to the Dallas Cowboys. He's second cousins with one of the Cowboys' all-time greats. He talked about that connection and what he sees in the Cowboys, and we look at the statistical advantages held by each team.

Vikings cornerback Asher Allen might not find himself consistently facing off against leading Cowboys receiver Miles Austin, but the rookie Allen knows all about productive Cowboys receivers. His second cousin is Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin.

"He's with the Florida side of my family. We've got a lot of family out there on the Florida side," Allen said. "Even when I was coming out (for the draft as a junior) he had me on his show out there in Dallas."

Allen said he talks with Irvin every so often, but the rookie isn't expecting much insight from Irvin regarding the current Dallas Cowboys team. Irvin, a member of the 2007 Hall of Fame class, completed his NFL playing days in 1999 after being named to five Pro Bowls and the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1990s.

"When he was playing, I know it was a whole different offense than obviously now," Allen said. "(The Cowboys) will probably tell him some stuff, but they won't tell him everything.

"I'm probably going to talk to him later on this week. Talk some trash, that's about it."

Interestingly, Irvin's NFL career started the same year that Allen was born – 1988 – so the past for the Cowboys isn't nearly as important right now for Allen as the modern-day team he will be facing.

The Cowboys finished the season 11-5 and have won their last four in a row, including a upsetting the previously unbeaten New Orleans Saints on Dec. 19, posting back-to-back shutouts against NFC East rivals Washington and Philadelphia, and the dispatching of the Eagles again in wild card round of the playoffs.

"I see a team with a lot of confidence," Allen said of the Cowboys. "With every game you obviously gain a lot of confidence because you're actually doing it out there, you're actually playing a game. The more and more you get reps, you get confident. I'm seeing a team right now that, even though years past they probably weren't doing this good around this time, right now they're just playing lights out. I think it's just a confidence starting with (QB Tony) Romo. He seems like he's playing really, really good ball. And again, whenever your defense is stopping the team to shutouts, that's obviously a confidence-booster to the whole team, special teams included."

Allen knows something about special teams, too, since he needed to commit to that before he was given a chance to play this year. The third-round pick was inactive for the first six games of the season. Since then, however, he has played in each of the last 10 games.

So what allowed Allen to become a contributing part of the defense in his rookie season?

"For me, it was just special teams. Now that I've gotten the chance to prove that I can play special teams, that's the reason why I've been able to be up and play nickel. It was never a problem about defense – can you play defense?" he said. "But I think it was just, can you be consistent during special teams. I spent the first six weeks just working at it, working at it. Obviously in college special teams was just like before defense goes out or before offense goes out. You kind of just get it over with, but here obviously they take it more serious. That's pretty much the reason why."

WHAT'S IN THE NUMBERS?

  • The Vikings are 12-14-0 against the Cowboys all-time, including a 10-10 mark in the regular season and a 2-4 record in postseason play. The Vikings are 5-9 against the Cowboys all-time at home, but are 4-3 since moving to the Metrodome.

  • The Vikings have won five of the last six against the Cowboys.

  • The Cowboys are appearing in the playoffs for the 30th time, tied for the most all-time. The Vikings earned their 26th berth, tied for the fourth-most.

  • The Vikings and Cowboys finished the season ranked similarly on offense and defense. Dallas had the second-ranked offense (seventh rushing and sixth passing) and the Vikings had the fifth-ranked offense (13th rushing and eighth passing). Defensively, the Cowboys were ranked ninth (fourth against the run and 20th against the pass) and the Vikings were ranked sixth (second against the run and 19th against the pass).

  • While those previous rankings are based on yards, the Vikings held a decent edge in scoring, ranking second in points scored (470) with the Cowboys finishing 14th with 361 points.

  • The Vikings also held a decent edge in red zone efficiency, scoring touchdowns on 62.3 percent of their trips inside the 20-yard line compared to 52 percent for the Cowboys. The Vikings also were better in red zone defense – 45 percent to the Cowboys' 56.3 percent.

  • The Cowboys held a decent edge in average yards per play – 6.26, best in the NFL compared to the Vikings' 10th-ranked 5.76 yards per play.

  • The Cowboys were also better in points surrendered on defense – giving up 15.6 points per game compared to 19.5 points for the Vikings defense.


    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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