Minnesota Vikings: Defense is the team’s heart and soul


The Minnesota Vikings defense has often been the Achilles heel of the team, but last season the defense was the heart and soul that led us into Wild Card Weekend.

What stands out the most when you look back at the last 3 Super Bowl games played? I believe the most important factors have been the defensive side of the ball. It has required not only stand out individual performances, but more so the entire defense swarming to the ball.

Looking back at Super Bowl 48 the Seattle Seahawks came in as 2 point underdogs and wound up beating the Denver Broncos record-setting offense by the score of 43-8. Led Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and the rest of the “Legion of Boom” held the Broncos to almost 30 points below their scoring average. The MVP: Malcom Smith (linebacker).

The following season Malcom Butler’s game saving interception of a Russel Wilson pass from the 1 yard line in the waning seconds of Super Bowl 49 secured Tom Brady and the New England Patriots a 28-24 victory over the same Seattle Seahawks. The MVP: Tom Brady (quarterback).

Last but not least Super Bowl 50 was a defensive display from start to finish. The Denver Broncos, led by Von Miller, swarmed the seemingly untouchable Carolina Panthers and League MVP Cam Newton to the tune of 7 sacks and 3 turnovers including a fumble recovered for a touchdown. Carolinas own defense kept the game at 16-7 entering the final frame but Denver made enough plays to come out on top 24-10. The MVP: Von Miller (linebacker).

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The Minnesota Vikings prior to last season have not exactly set the world on fire with their defense. In the 70’s it was the defense and Fran Tarkenton who led the Vikings to 3 Super Bowl appearances (Joe Kapp was QB for the 69 Vikings  Super Bowl squad). Throughout the 80s and 90s, the Vikings had some solid players and defenses that could be saved by the Vikings potent offenses.

The statistics since the beginning of the 2000 season though have been disturbing for the Minnesota Vikings, allowing an average of 22.85 points per game putting them in an average ranking of 19th. By comparison the average points per game given up by the best defenses is 14.2. As a telling statistic the only team that has led the league in points per game given up and didn’t make the Super Bowl at least once in the last 16 years is the New York Jets in 2009. The Chicago Bears were in 1st place twice and made the Super Bowl once but lost.

The Minnesota Vikings have actually only cracked the top 10 twice since the 2000 season, to add insult to that statistic, only the St. Louis Rams(now L.A. Rams) and the Detroit Lions have appeared less at 1 time apiece. The Vikings have had a top 10 rush defense several times when we had big Pat Williams and Kevin Williams forming the Williams Wall, but a consistently porous pass defense has been easy to exploit.

Last season the Vikings finished in 5th place allowing 18.9 points per game, the Seahawks led the league with 17.3 points per game. Obviously we the fans are painfully aware both teams made the playoffs, but if there is one positive from the playoff game is that we proved the Minnesota Vikings defense is on a meteoric rise.

The names Harrison Smith, Everson Griffen, Anthony Barr, Xavier Rhodes, and Captain Munnerlyn are only a few of the many names of players that contributed and will be back to compete again this season. Think of the names left off my initial list… Linval Joseph, Eric Kendricks, Shariff  Floyd, Brian Robison, Danielle Hunter…. and there are many more who stepped in and stepped up at various points during the season. I expect the Vikings stars will continue to shine and hopefully the Vikings new additions combined with our seasoned veterans will finish in the top 5 again.

Next: Vikings seek dynamic WR duo

This may be the last runs for Chad Greenway and Terence Newman. The Vikings offense is primed for success and the stars all point up. It’s not Super Bowl or bust for the Vikings but it may be for Minnesota’s veterans. Can the Minnesota Vikings finally put it all together and be the team to end the Minnesota men’s professional sports drought?