Secondary still on a high after taking step forward

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 13, 2011 - 1:02 PM

With Antoine Winfield and Cedric Griffin on the sideline, an inexperienced group helped contain Larry Fitzgerald.

The edge.

It's hard for Vikings cornerback Chris Cook to describe exactly what it feels like. But Cook knows it was present Sunday at Mall of America Field. He sensed it in pregame warm-ups, in the locker room before the game with Arizona and especially when the Vikings defense took the field for the first time.

"We needed that victory," Cook said. "We talked all week about starting the second quarter of our season 1-0. So we came out driven to have that edge."

With cornerback Antoine Winfield inactive because of a neck injury and Cedric Griffin held out of the starting lineup due to disciplinary reasons, the Vikings secondary understood the microscope it was under. Beyond that, Cardinals star receiver Larry Fitzgerald had come back to his hometown looking to exploit those secondary shortcomings.

The Vikings defense, however, saw Winfield's absence as a cue to rally and spent most of last week with a three-word motto.

"Play as one," safety Jamarca Sanford said. "That's all we kept stressing. We had to make sure all 11 guys were playing the same call. There were no busted assignments."

On Wednesday, three days after a 34-10 drubbing of Arizona, the defensive backs still were beaming over that edge they felt.

For a 1-4 team trying to scale a steep mountain in the NFC North standings, progress proved invigorating.

Whether it was Asher Allen making his first start of the season Sunday and delivering an interception on Arizona's third series; whether it was Cook scrapping fearlessly, frequently in hand-to-hand combat with Fitzgerald; whether it was Griffin limiting his mistakes, Sanford contributing two interceptions or Marcus Sherels staying poised in nickel packages, the Vikings secondary delivered a top-notch effort.

The most telling stat: Fitzgerald caught only one more pass (four) than the Vikings' secondary.

"We slowed him down a little bit, got him out of his routes," Cook said. "His game's all about timing, especially in their offense. We threw that timing off."

Added coach Leslie Frazier: "Looking back at this performance, it should help us play against some of the great receivers in our league."

The past three weeks, the Vikings had to focus on limiting several of the NFL's top receivers -- Fitzgerald, Kansas City's Dwayne Bowe and Detroit's Calvin Johnson. Now comes what seems to be a potential breather.

This week, the Vikings face a Chicago receiving corps that has been underwhelming. Undrafted rookie Dane Sanzenbacher has the most catches among Bears receivers this season with 16. Johnny Knox, meanwhile, is the only Bears receiver averaging more than 35 yards per game (50.8).

Instead, Sanford says, the Vikings secondary will have to zero in on running back Matt Forte, the NFL's leader in yards from scrimmage with 775.

Still, the Vikings defensive backs head to Soldier Field with several lessons learned from last weekend's blowout. For one, they feel confident their depth is as reliable as ever. For another, the defensive backs understand the Vikings front four of Jared Allen, Brian Robison, Kevin Williams and Remi Ayodele catalyzed their success Sunday.

"That was a huge factor," Cook said. "Every time we looked up on the tape, there was someone either hitting [Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb] or coming a half-step away from hitting him. When a quarterback faces that much pressure constantly, he gets jittery and just wants to get the ball out of his hands."

And that edge the Vikings felt early on? It came with a nice reward.

With 2:41 left in the first quarter, the Cardinals had 13 net yards of offense. Meanwhile, thanks to the defense's services, the Vikings had 28 points.

"When you're in the National Football League, you don't often look up and get to see 28-0 in the first quarter," Sanford said. "That was a big boost for us. I think it showed us all what we're capable of."


    Up next: 7:20 p.m. Sunday at Chicago TV: Ch. 11 (1130-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Houston 2 FINAL
St. Louis 5
Washington 9 FINAL
Atlanta 8
Miami 5 FINAL
Boston 3
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
NY Yankees 4 FINAL
Philadelphia 1
Baltimore 4 FINAL
Toronto 5
Detroit - LP: J. Mantiply 4 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: C. Torres 5
Cincinnati 5 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 2
Los Angeles 10 FINAL
Milwaukee 1
San Francisco 12 FINAL
Texas 3
Chicago WSox 0 FINAL
San Diego 5
Kansas City 11 FINAL
Cleveland 9
Seattle 4 FINAL
Los Angeles 7
Colorado 0 FINAL
LA Angels 3
Oakland 7 FINAL
Arizona 2
Pittsburgh 0 Top 1st Inning
NY Yankees 0
Chicago 6:00 PM
Sacramento 6:00 PM
Utah 6:00 PM
Miami 6:00 PM
Toronto 6:00 PM
Cleveland 6:30 PM
Boston 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Detroit 7:00 PM
LA Lakers 7:00 PM
Phoenix 7:00 PM
Denver 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Dallas 9:30 PM
Golden State
Columbus 0 1st Prd 19:35
New Jersey 0
Minnesota 0 1st Prd 19:10
Carolina 0
Buffalo 6:30 PM
Calgary 6:30 PM
Edmonton 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh 9:00 PM
Longwood 68 FINAL
Char Southern 60
Ark-Pine Bluff 94 FINAL
Miss Valley St 75
Southern Ill 45 FINAL
Wichita State 56
Winthrop 67 FINAL
Radford 66
Evansville 67 FINAL
Illinois State 71
Towson 36 2nd Half 16:33
Elon 37
Gardner-Webb 40 2nd Half 15:30
High Point 41
Samford 36 2nd Half 18:17
UNC Greensboro 43
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Ball State
Bowling Green 2 1st Half 19:05
Buffalo 0
Brown 7 1st Half 17:03
Dartmouth 0
Toledo 0 1st Half 16:41
Eastern Mich 5
Akron 9 1st Half 15:11
Kent State 10
Ill-Chicago 3 1st Half 16:21
Oakland 8
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Columbia 0 1st Half 18:35
Penn 0
Cornell 6 1st Half 15:43
Princeton 7
Central Mich 6:00 PM
Western Mich
Bradley 0 1st Half 20:00
Northern Iowa 0
Morehead State 6:30 PM
Murray State
UNC-Asheville 7:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
Yale 7:00 PM
Furman 7:30 PM
Coll of Charleston 7:30 PM
Texas Tech 8:00 PM
Pacific 8:00 PM
San Francisco
Detroit 8:30 PM
Cleveland State
Belmont 8:30 PM
Eastern Ky
Loyola-Chicago 8:35 PM
Indiana State
Loyola Marymount 10:30 PM
Santa Clara
Chicago 9:00 PM
Los Angeles
Saint Louis 63 FINAL
(21) George Washington 77
Wake Forest 68 FINAL
(16) Duke 77
Furman 55 FINAL
(17) Chattanooga 68
Monmouth 61 FINAL
Quinnipiac 82
Michigan State 60 FINAL
(4) Maryland 70
Belmont 65 FINAL
UT Martin 71
Arkansas 36 FINAL
(3) South Carolina 58
Mercer 56 FINAL
East Tenn St 66
Richmond 45 FINAL
Fordham 46
Miami-Florida 61 FINAL
(2) Notre Dame 77
Siena 61 FINAL
Iona 71
Washington St 48 FINAL
(9) Arizona State 67
Ark-Pine Bluff 63 FINAL
Miss Valley St 51
(23) Rutgers 57 FINAL
(24) Northwestern 62
Tennessee St 71 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 59
Loyola Marymount 50 FINAL
Gonzaga 70
(18) Texas A&M 65 FINAL
LSU 71
Cincinnati 76 FINAL
UCF 66
Saint Josephs 61 FINAL
Dayton 80
(19) Stanford 67
Santa Clara 40 2nd Half 1:26
San Diego 49
Virginia Tech 17 2nd Half
(7) Florida State 41
SMU 27 2nd Half
Memphis 37
Lehigh 49 2nd Half 15:25
Holy Cross 24
USC Upstate 6:00 PM
Northern Ky
Lipscomb 6:00 PM
Nebraska 6:00 PM
(14) Iowa
Lafayette 6:00 PM
American Univ
Colgate 6:00 PM
Dartmouth 6:00 PM
Penn 6:00 PM
(13) Princeton 6:00 PM
Rhode Island 0 1st Half 19:08
Duquesne 2
North Florida 0 1st Half 17:45
(20) Fla Gulf Coast 8
Kennesaw St 0 1st Half 19:28
Jacksonville 3
Saint Peters 0 1st Half 18:05
Marist 5
Navy 3 1st Half 18:51
Bucknell 3
Georgia 4 1st Half 17:37
(5) Tennessee 2
Kansas 3 1st Half 16:22
Kansas State 4
Harvard 10 1st Half 15:45
Yale 4
(15) North Carolina 7:00 PM
(10) Louisville
San Jose St 7:00 PM
Houston 7:00 PM
Utah State 8:00 PM
Colorado State
Colorado 8:00 PM
(8) Oregon State
New Mexico 8:00 PM
Minnesota 8:25 PM
Ohio State
(12) Kentucky 8:25 PM
(11) Miss State
San Diego State 8:30 PM
Niagara 8:30 PM
Texas Tech 8:30 PM
West Virginia
Boise State 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Washington 10:30 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters



Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9




question of the day

Poll: Who is doing the best job coaching a Minnesota pro sports team?

Weekly Question