Vikings show they can get physical, too

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 24, 2012 - 12:02 PM

The defenders were a match for the 49ers' hard-hitting approach.

The most physically dominant and efficiently sound offense in football turned the ball over three times while getting beat up 24-13 at Mall of America Field on Sunday.

"The 49ers think they're physical, and we think we're physical," Vikings linebacker Marvin Mitchell said. "When two physical teams meet, something has to give. They gave."

Nobody saw it coming. Nobody predicted three turnovers in the fourth quarter for a 49ers team that had committed an NFL-record low 10 all of last season and just one this season. Nobody predicted that rookie nickel back Josh Robinson would be chest-bumping defensive backs coach Joe Woods after ending Alex Smith's franchise-record streak for passes without an interception at 249. And nobody predicted that a pile-driving, run-based offense like the 49ers' would convert only four of 10 third downs while being held to 86 yards rushing, 81 below their season average and 174 fewer than they had against the Vikings in Week 1 of the preseason.

"Vegas had us as the [7 1/2-point] underdogs," said cornerback Antoine Winfield, "and I'm sure a lot of people lost their money today."

The Vikings held the 49ers to 280 yards of offense. The most impressive snapshot of the game defensively came after the 49ers returned the opening kickoff of the second half 94 yards to the Vikings 14. What followed was a defensive stand that held the 49ers to a 29-yard field goal, kept the Vikings comfortably on top at 17-6 and reminded Jared Allen of how things used to be when the Vikings ranked first in run defense from 2006 to 2008 and second in 2009.

"That right there is defense," Allen said. "That was one of the finer moments of our young season. ... We showed these young guys around here that we smack people in the mouth."

Even more impressive was the fact that three guys with question marks hanging over them made tackles on that key stop. Mitchell, starting his third NFL game in six seasons and making his Vikings debut in place of injured Erin Henderson, stopped Kendall Hunter for a 3-yard gain on first down. Nose tackle Letroy Guion and middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley, two new starters this season, stopped Frank Gore for a 4-yard gain on second down. And then Smith scrambled out of bounds for a yard when no one was open and the pressure flushed him.

"We knew they were going to try to come in here and pound our faces in," defensive end Brian Robison said. "The fact of the matter is we gave it back to them. That's not being cocky. That's not being arrogant. We saw some things they said about Detroit after the game [last week], how they basically smashed their faces in.''

The 49ers did close within four points, 17-13, but their final five possessions went like this: fumble, punt, punt, interception, fumble.

The first fumble was caused by Jamarca Sanford, a starter last season, back in the lineup because of a first-quarter ankle injury to Mistral Raymond.

"This is big for us," Sanford said. "For young guys, it can be a confidence boost. And once you get your swag up, the sky is the limit."

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Houston 7:30 PM
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 6:00 PM
New Orleans 6:00 PM
Milwaukee 6:30 PM
New York
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
Charlotte 6:30 PM
Sacramento 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Memphis 7:30 PM
Tampa Bay 8:30 PM
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
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(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
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(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Ottawa 6 FINAL
Hamilton 16
Montreal 20 FINAL
Toronto 12
Calgary 33 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Edmonton 24 FINAL
Saskatchewan 19
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2014 preseason     
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