Hartman: Allen, Vikings simply take it week to week

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 7, 2012 - 11:44 PM

The defensive end said the lack of outside pressure has enabled the team to have great focus on game days.


Vikings defensive end Jared Allen rushed Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck in the third quarter.

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

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Jared Allen, who had another big day in rushing Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck while being double- and triple-teamed as the Vikings beat a terrible Tennessee team 30-7 on Sunday, afterward was trying to explain the big improvement in the defense over the past two years.

"If we get two more wins, we'll be better than 2010, right? We'll try to get Washington next week," Allen said.

"Guys are playing well. Like I said, from looking at the offseason to right now, I couldn't have told you we would be here. I thought one of the cool things was, it was really going to be a year that each game was truly going to mean something."

Allen said that once he arrived in Mankato for training camp, he had a better idea about what kind of team the Vikings had this season.

"You always say as a team that you want to win the division," he said. "But after I got to training camp, you could tell that guys were working. And young guys, credit to Coach [Leslie Frazier], he wasn't letting young guys be young. Does that make sense?

"There wasn't that excuse of, 'Oh we're young.' Then hats off to [Antoine Winfield] after the Colts game [which the Vikings lost 23-20], he recognized some things and he called it out the way it needed to be, talked about it. When a veteran like that stands up and kind of calls you to the carpet, to say that we need to pick it up, and then to have guys respond the way they have, it has been really good."

Regarding the media and fans' surprise at the Vikings' 4-1 record, Allen said: "Let them be surprised. There's no expectations for us except to go out and try to win one game at a time. As cliché as it is, it's almost better that way.

"We don't have the outside pressure, we don't have any of that. To be able to focus each week on your opponent and not focus on what's going on here or if we lose a game, home-field advantage might be out -- we're just trying to get enough wins to hopefully make the playoffs. We have a tough test on the road and we have to go perform."

Allen said that feeling of week-to-week expectations is what separates this squad from the great Vikings team of 2009, which went to the NFC Championship Game.

"In 2009, our front seven had been together for a while, I was the newcomer there. You had coach Frazier who was in his fourth or fifth year in the defense, so everything was really clicking. I guess [that year] you put in a game plan and you just expect guys will execute it. Now it's a thing where we have to work week in and week out, but the results are showing on the field."

Speaking about Percy Harvin, the Vikings receiver who scored two touchdowns Sunday, Allen said: "I think he's probably the best player, if not the best player in the NFL for what he does, minus the quarterback position -- I mean the dude, it's like watching 'Top Gun' out there, he's going to hit the brakes and watch them fly right by.

"You would think he's 260 pounds the way he runs the ball. It's just so much fun to watch him and Adrian [Peterson] play. I played with Dante Hall once and that's probably the closest comparison I can get to, only I think Percy is at a different level than that just as far as his ability and toughness to break tackles."

Yes, Allen is right, it's been a long time since a Vikings team surprised like this.

Improving every week

Christian Ponder wound up with a respectable 87.6 rating after throwing his first two interceptions on the year, but the second-year quarterback knows that compiling impressive statistics aren't the main objective.

"Obviously a win is a win against a team like the Titans," Ponder said. "We're trying to improve every week."

About the interceptions, Ponder said: "I threw two of them, so it's good to get that out of the way and now I don't have to worry about any streak. Interceptions can happen. The good thing is that they were bad throws and not poor decisions. I can get better at them and overcome them."

Ponder threw 10 passes at Harvin; he caught eight of them, for 108 yards and a touchdown.

"He's unbelievable, one of the best players in the league, and we're going to keep giving him the ball and he's going to keep making plays," Ponder said.

On the running game, Ponder said: "We ran the ball well. I think Adrian had a little under 90 yards [88] and the defense shut down Chris Johnson. This was a great team win. We're going to keep improving each week and take it one week at a time."

Praises rookie

Ponder also wanted to single out sixth-round draft choice Rhett Ellison, the tight end who made his first two NFL receptions Sunday, including one he broke off for a 29-yard gain, in addition to doing a great job on his blocking duties.

"He's a heck of a player, and he has really impressed us since he came in," said Ponder. "He's worked extremely hard. He played well at USC, and we're going to keep giving him the ball so he can make plays.

"He's a very good blocker. We usually use him in the run game, but he's athletic and can obviously make plays in the passing game as well."

Ponder also praised the offensive line, which once again kept the opposition from sacking him.

"They're playing extremely well right now. I think everyone can tell that they're a great group," he said. "They really jell together and I have all day back there to throw the ball. They're really helping me out, for sure."

Still Ponder didn't want to take credit for accomplishing anything to date, despite the Vikings 4-1 record.

"Our goal is to go to the Super Bowl, but it's the NFL," he said. "We have to take it one week at a time. We haven't accomplished anything yet. We're going to continue to try to string these wins together and take it week to week."

No alibis from Hutch

Someone you had to feel sorry for was former Vikings star Steve Hutchinson, who had to wind up on maybe the worst team in the NFL and face his old teammates when the Vikings defensive line is playing at a very high level.

"It was so tough out there," said the Titans guard, who exchanged greetings with former teammates before and after the game.

Hutchinson is a first-class football player and a first-class guy, but he is playing with an offensive line that simply could not compete against a dominant defensive line like the one the Vikings put out there Sunday. That much was apparent in the boxscore, with the Titans securing only five first downs through the first three quarters of the game.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

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Tennessee 12/18/14 7:25 PM
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
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Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
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NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Atlanta 108 4th Qtr 8:00
Cleveland 81
Phoenix 93 4th Qtr 8:51
Charlotte 94
Dallas 53 3rd Qtr 11:25
Detroit 54
Utah 55 3rd Qtr
Miami 41
Orlando 63 3rd Qtr 7:17
Boston 65
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Toronto 34
Memphis 14 1st Qtr 6:00
San Antonio 6
Milwaukee 9:00 PM
Houston 9:30 PM
Indiana 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Ottawa 1 3rd Prd
New Jersey 0
Boston 2 2nd Prd
Minnesota 1
Dallas 9:00 PM
Langston 65 FINAL
North Texas 78
Delaware State 72 FINAL
St Francis-NY 64
James Madison 67 2nd Half 1:45
Ball State 47
SIU Edwardsville 60 2nd Half 1:00
Campbell 64
St Francis-PA 67 FINAL
Duquesne 52
North Florida 55 2nd Half 7:34
Florida State 76
Catawba 69 2nd Half 0:20
George Mason 99
Ferrum 48 FINAL
High Point 106
Hampton 44 2nd Half 3:22
Illinois 70
Gardner-Webb 65 2nd Half 1:07
Jacksonville 66
Longwood 54 2nd Half 2:24
Miami-Ohio 63
Arkansas State 69 FINAL
Miss State 55
Tennessee 65 2nd Half 1:38
NC State 72
Ohio State 97
Manhattan 52 2nd Half 1:49
Pittsburgh 59
Robert Morris 57 FINAL
Toledo 83
Char Southern 58 FINAL
Wofford 64
Kennesaw St 88 2nd Half 0:27
Youngstown St 81
Barber-Scotia 52 2nd Half 0:17
NC Central 109
Detroit 43 2nd Half 11:04
UCF 54
Liberty 37 2nd Half 11:04
UNC-Wilmington 40
TX A&M-CC 18 1st Half 0:13
Denver 36
Ark-Pine Bluff 27 2nd Half
Houston 16
UT Martin 18 2nd Half
Illinois State 28
Milligan 34 1st Half 3:00
Louisiana 52
Abilene Christian 29 2nd Half
Loyola-Chicago 38
USC Upstate 29 2nd Half
Memphis 42
Alcorn State 24 2nd Half
Murray State 40
Central Mich 36 2nd Half
Northwestern 29
Georgia State 27 2nd Half
Old Dominion 23
TX-Pan American 26 1st Half 0:33
Saint Louis 33
Ill-Chicago 15 2nd Half
SMU 29
Texas State 30 2nd Half
Stephen F Austin 27
SC State 23 1st Half 0:04
Texas Tech 51
Missouri State 28 2nd Half
Tulsa 29
Chicago State 33 2nd Half
Western Ky 37
Morehead State 20 1st Half 3:48
Green Bay 30
Northern Colorado 32 2nd Half
Nebraska Omaha 46
Winthrop 8:00 PM
New Mexico St 8:00 PM
San Diego St 8:00 PM
Eastern Mich 8:00 PM
Michigan State
Loyola Marymount 8:00 PM
Incarnate Word 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Northeastern 9:00 PM
Cal Poly
Central Arkansas 9:00 PM
New Mexico
Howard 9:00 PM
Portland 9:30 PM
CS-Northridge 10:00 PM
Grambling St 10:00 PM
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Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
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Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Western Carolina 79 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 66
(21) Miss State 66 FINAL
Louisiana 51
(25) DePaul 109 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 84
Liberty 64 FINAL
NC State 67
Elon 77 FINAL
Campbell 51
Akron 73 FINAL
UCF 64
Richmond 77 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 67
Montana 70 FINAL
Seattle 64
(7) Stanford 46 FINAL
Chattanooga 54
Florida A&M 69 FINAL
Southern U 80
Oklahoma 72 FINAL
(13) Duke 92
Savannah State 56 FINAL
Auburn 62
Siena 75 FINAL
Sacred Heart 65
Vermont 63 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
(1) South Carolina 69 FINAL
Hampton 49
Fla Gulf Coast 91 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 46
Texas Southern 92 FINAL
Houston Baptist 80
Drexel 50 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Cincinnati 52 FINAL
Northern Ky 66
Arkansas State 59 FINAL
Kent State 44
American Univ 60 FINAL
Manhattan 52
UNC Greensboro 60 FINAL
St Bonaventure 78
Northern Colorado 41 2nd Half 3:44
South Florida 80
Youngstown St 61 1st OT
Robert Morris 61
Northwestern 86 2nd Half 0:43
NC A&T 66 1st OT
Appalachian St 66
NC Central 52 2nd Half
Coastal Carolina 67
Alabama State 51 2nd Half 1:24
Georgia Tech 75
Morehead St 51 2nd Half 7:57
USC Upstate 57
Arkansas-Monticello 25 2nd Half
Northwestern St 21
Prairie View 34 2nd Half 16:04
Sam Houston St 33
McNeese State 19 1st Half 0:05
(3) Texas 44
Yale 40 2nd Half
Wagner 32
Oakland 25 1st Half 0:50
TX A&M-CC 28
Eastern Kentucky 41 2nd Half
Alabama A&M 20
SIU-Edwardsville 17 1st Half 0:31
Northern Ill 34
McMurry 8 2nd Half
TX-Arlington 49
Portland 8:00 PM
Eastern Washington
North Texas 9:00 PM
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2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
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