Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Breaking down defensive numbers

Posted by: under Vikings, Packers, Brad Childress, Leslie Frazier, Vikings defense, Ben Leber, Brad Childress, Leslie Frazier Updated: October 13, 2009 - 9:11 PM

We’ve received a number of emails and questions about the amount of yards the Vikings defense has given up through five games.

They currently rank 14th in the NFL in total defense allowing an average of 320.6 yards per game. The defense has given up 824 yards total the past two games, including 400 to the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.
 
The Vikings rank 10th in the league against the run, 18th against the pass. Members of the defense say they are not overly concerned about the yards allowed because they are having success in other areas that they believe are more important.
 
Specifically, they have the second most takeaways in the NFL and they lead the league in red-zone defense. Their success in those areas has offset the yardage allowed.
 
“Our goal was to be the No. 1 defense in the league and we’re not proving that right now,” linebacker Ben Leber said. “But the bottom line is we’re doing enough right now to win. We’re scoring on defense, we’re getting turnovers. So we’re doing a lot of other good things to make up for that. As long as we keep getting the ‘Ws’, it doesn’t matter where we fall defensively.”
 
Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier is mindful of yards allowed, but he said he places a stronger emphasis on other areas.
 
“Scoring defense, red zone, third down -- from Day 1, I’ve always preached that,” he said. “I’ve told them that you can’t get caught up in yards in our league. There have been teams that have been No. 1 in this, No. 1 in that and they are sitting at home come playoff time. The most important thing is, give us a chance in every game to be successful. That means scoring defense, red zone, third down and turnovers and we’ll be fine.”
 
The Vikings have collected 12 takeaways and their opponents have scored only four touchdowns in 13 trips to the red zone. That includes a goal-line stand from the 1-yard line against the Packers and three takeaways inside the 10-yard line against the Rams.
 
The Vikings are allowing 18 points per game and are the only team that has not given up a rushing touchdown. They also have an NFL-best 18 sacks.
 
“Points scored are really the litmus,” coach Brad Childress said. “They don’t say how, they say how many. That’s what we are always zeroing in on. Those are nice things -- run defense, pass defense, run offense, pass (offense). Bottom line is somebody turns it over, you do something with it. If it’s only a 20-yard field, you don’t get the yards, but you get the points. We can’t argue with that.” 
 

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