There are a lot of reasons for the Vikings 10-1 start and certainly one of those is their success on third down on both sides of the ball.
The Vikings lead the NFL in third-down defense and rank second in third-down offense.
The last team to lead the NFL in both third-down offense and third-down defense in the same season was the 1975 Vikings, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“You look at traditionally what wins games and its third down and turnovers,” Pro Bowl left guard Steve Hutchinson said. “If you can eliminate turnovers and make the majority of your third downs, you’re going to be all right.”
Coach Brad Childress said the two work “hand in glove.”
“It’s a perfect storm when you can do that,” he said. “When you can stay on there as long as you want to.”
Not surprisingly, the Vikings have shown dramatic improvement in third-down offense because of Brett Favre.
They finished 19th in the league in third-down efficiency last season at 39 percent. They are at 48.7 percent this season and trail only the Indianapolis Colts at 50 percent.
“It’s partly play-calling and partly execution on our part by the players,” wide receiver Sidney Rice said. “We’re just supposed to go out and execute on the plays that the coaches give us. Third downs was one of the things we talked about ever since the beginning of training camp.”
Favre is the NFL’ second-ranked passer on third down. He's completed 77 of 112 passes (68.8 percent) for 1,020 yards and eight touchdowns.
Rice ranks third in the NFL in third-down receiving yards (307) while rookie Percy Harvin is fourth (292).
Chester Taylor leads all running backs and is sixth overall in third-down catches (19).
Defensively, the Vikings are holding opponents to 32.8 percent on third down. The Vikings finished fourth in this category last season.