A couple of days ago, we took a look at how the Vikings' offense has performed in the Red Zone this season, and it wasn't an especially pretty picture. The defense, on the other hand, has performed armirably between the twenties, but hasn't been quite as strong in the red zone as we've been accustomed to over the past couple of seasons.
In the season opener against the team that doesn't deserve a mention, the Vikings defense found themselves backed up into the red zone two times. On one of them, they allowed the only rushing touchdown they've allowed this season, and on the other, Garrett Chokley hooked an easy field goal that could have made the deficit larger than it was. Amazing. . .loser makes one big kick in his entire life, so naturally it had to come at our expense.
In Minnesota's home opener against the Miami Dolphins, the Vikings allowed the opponent to enter the Red Zone only one time. . .on their very first drive of the game. Unfortunately, the Dolphins were able to capitalize on it, as the Vikings allowed a five-yard touchdown pass to Brian Hartline from Chad Henne. The Dolphins didn't get inside the Minnesota 20 for the rest of the afternoon. . .of course, they didn't have to, as the Vikings were busy repeatedly shooting themselves in the foot whenever they got into the Miami red zone, and lost to the Dolphins as a result.
The defense in the Red Zone tightened up considerably when the Lions came to town in Week Three. On Detroit's lone touchdown of the afternoon, their offense actually started inside the Red Zone at the Vikings' 12-yard line. . .which was probably good for them, considering their three series before that were all three-and-outs and had gained a total of 13 yards. They converted that drive for a touchdown, and had a drive at the end of the first half that reached the Red Zone as well. However, thanks to clock management from Jim Schwartz that can generously be classified as "awful," the Lions settled for a field goal. The Lions also managed to reach the red zone two more times, on their final two drives of the game, but both of those drives ended in Viking interceptions. . .one for linebacker Ben Leber, and one on a deflection into the hands of Antoine Winfield.
So, in total, the Vikings have allowed their opponents to reach the Red Zone seven times in the first three games of the year. (Well, the defense allowed them to reach there six times, and the offense handed an opponent the ball in the red zone on one other occasion.) In those seven attempts, the Vikings have allowed three touchdowns (one rushing, two passing), one field goal, and have held the opponent scoreless three times.
Believe me, folks. . .the Vikings' defense is not the reason this team is 1-2. In terms of per-game averages, the Vikings are behind only the Pittsburgh Steelers in terms of points allowed per game (the Vikings and the Kansas City Chiefs have allowed 12.7 points per game thus far, just behind Pittsburgh's 12.5). When it comes to yards allowed per game, only the San Diego Chargers, Baltimore Ravens, and New York Giants are ahead of Minnesota's clip of 276.3 yards allowed.
If Minnesota's offense catches up to Minnesota's defense at any point this season, the rest of the NFL is going to have hell to pay. And I think we all know that it's going to. . .it's just a matter of when.