Go Figure: Falcons will look to go airborne against unimposing Vikings pass defense
- Blog Post by: Dan Wiederer
- November 22, 2011 - 10:20 AM
As the Vikings prepare for Sunday’s Week 12 game with Atlanta at the Georgia Dome, here’s a look at a handful of eye-opening figures and facts.
Interceptions this season by the Vikings. Only four NFL teams have fewer picks. Cincinnati, New Orleans and Indianapolis all have five interceptions. Pittsburgh, surprisingly, has only four. The Vikings’ last interception came on their final defensive play of a 34-10 win over Arizona on Oct. 9. (At that stage of the season, we wrote that the Vikings' secondary may have taken a step forward.) Oops! Opponents have attempted 151 passes since with 109 completions and 13 TD tosses. In that span, the Vikings have thrown six interceptions.
Atlanta’s NFL rank in passing offense. The Falcons average 248.4 passing yards per game and are coming off a 23-17 home win over Tennessee in which quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 316 yards and a score. Ryan has a quarterback rating of 85.5 for the season, completing 60.8 percent of his passes. He has 2,625 passing yards, 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. In Sunday’s win, Ryan revived his chemistry with receiver Roddy White. The duo connected seven times for 147 yards. Now, they’ll get the opportunity to face a Vikings defense that has given up an NFL-worst 19 touchdown passes in its 10 games.
Toby Gerhart’s rushing yardage this season. That ranks 76th in the NFL with Gerhart sandwiched between little-used Detroit running back Keiland Williams (119) and Pittsburgh’s less-often used Jonathan Dwyer (115). Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder, meanwhile, has rushed for 131 yards on 16 attempts. Gerhart will likely be forced to carry a bigger load Sunday in Atlanta with Adrian Peterson nursing a high ankle sprain. The Falcons, it’s worth noting, haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher all season.
The Vikings’ record the past five seasons in games Peterson hasn’t played. They won twice during Peterson’s rookie year when the star running back was out with a minor knee injury. Chester Taylor picked up the slack in wins over the Raiders and Giants, rushing for 241 yards and four touchdowns. Last season, with Peterson held out in Week 15 to rest thigh and ankle injuries, the Vikings fell 40-14 to the Bears at TCF Bank Stadium with Gerhart (16 carries, 77 yards) as the feature back.
Atlanta’s record at the Georgia Dome since the beginning of the 2008 season. The only NFL teams with more home wins in that span are the Patriots (25) and the Ravens (24). The Vikings are 3-1 all-time in the Georgia Dome, notching wins in 1996, 1999 and 2003. Their last trip there, however, wasn’t so fruitful. They lost 30-10 in Week 4 of 2005 with quarterback Daunte Culpepper sacked nine times while also throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble. The Falcons rushed for 285 yards in that win.
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