It seems ridiculous that the Vikings’ defense dominated the Colts on Saturday. However, they did, and you wouldn’t even remotely think that. This is especially true when you see that the Colts scored 36 points. The defense clamped down throughout the game, particularly in the second half, an unsung aspect of the memorable contest.
If you are still thinking to yourself, there is no way this true, let’s take a deeper dive.
First, how has the Vikings’ defense performed so far this year? Well, it’s been atrocious.
- 32nd in total yards allowed (399.2 per game)
- 31st in passing yards allowed (278.8 per game)
- 18th in rushing yards allowed (120.4 per game)
- 28th in points per game allowed (24.9 per game)
- 30th in yards per play (5.9 per play)
This is obviously not good enough, and everyone knows it. The only reason the Vikings have been able to pull off some of their wins this year is that the defense has come up big in key situations and created turnovers. In fact, creating turnovers is the sole bright spot.
The Vikings’ defense currently ranks 8th in the NFL in takeaways with a total of 21, including 12 interceptions and 9 fumble recoveries. This is good enough for a +4 turnover differential which ranks 7th in the NFL.
However, a switch seemed to flip during the Colts game, or maybe the Colts are just really bad, or both. Nonetheless, the Vikings switched things up on defense in the second half by playing more man coverage than they have all season. Additionally, they held their ground on multiple occasions when the Colts had a short field.
The Unsung Aspect of Vikings Win over Colts
Vikings’ Defense Turns it up a Notch Against the Colts
The most impressive thing about the Vikings’ defense on Saturday was their ability to limit the Colts to field goals. However, it wasn’t just that. The defense only allowed two sustained drives the whole game. Here is a look at each of the Colts’ possessions:
- Huge opening kickoff and got the ball at their 48. Gain 44 yards and kick a field goal
- Get the ball at their 34 after a fumble. Gain 66 yards and score a TD. (only TD by the offense)
- Get the ball at the MN 31, gain 21 yards, and kick a field goal
- Get the ball at the MN 31, gain 0 yards, and kick a field goal
- Gain 8 yards, punt
- Gain 65 yards and kick a field goal. (second of two sustained drives)
- Gain 14 yards, punt
- Short field, gain 26 yards, and kick a field goal (last time they score)
- Their last 8 drives would result in a total of 88 yards, one turnover, and a turnover on downs.
Looking back at all of these possessions, it’s clear that the defense stepped up exactly when they needed to. The Colts had four scoring drives that resulted in 12 points from very good field position.
The second-half defense, in particular, was astoundingly good. This is likely due to the man-to-man coverage and an incompetent Colts offense. However, if the Vikings elect to play more man-to-man in the season’s final three games, and this is the result, we could be looking at a very different team heading into the postseason.
Now, that is a big ask from the Vikings’ defense, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. They have three largely meaningless games to drill this defensive scheme in live action. Let’s see what they can unleash.
Mitch Massman is a lifelong Vikings fan. His first heartbreak was the 1998 NFC championship game. His full-time job is as an economic development professional in rural Minnesota. He fantasizes about the Vikings winning a Super Bowl one day, but until then he will write about the Vikings. Follow him on Twitter @skol_vikings3