The Minnesota Vikings' special teams have come a long way over the past few years. Back in 2008, they were historically inept, having allowed seven different returns for touchdowns on special teams, and allowing big returns all the way around.
It took until 2012, but the Vikings' special teams have come all the way back, according to Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News. Gosselin puts out an annual review of the special teams performance of all 32 NFL teams, ranking them in 22 different categories. The team at the top of a particular category gets 1 point, while the bottom team in a category gets 32 points. . .so, much like golf, a lower score is better.
In Gosselin's rankings for 2012, the Vikings' special teams racked up a composite score of 253.5, making them the best special teams unit in the National Football League. The Vikings finished 22.5 points better than the Cincinnati Bengals, the team that finished runner-up. Gosselin points out that the Vikings were 29th in his rankings after the 2011 season, and the jump the team made this year is the biggest jump he's had since he's done these rankings. Since he's been doing this for 33 years, that's awfully damn impressive.
How did they do it? Well, according to Gosselin. . .
Minnesota booted the most field goals, committed the fewest turnovers and allowed the fewest points in the NFL this season on special teams. The Vikings finished in the top five in seven other categories and the top 10 in four more.
He has all the categories listed after his rankings in his column linked above. It appears that the only category that the Vikings finished first in was field goals, with Blair Walsh's 35 leading the National Football League. But, when you finish in the top ten in half of the categories ranked, consistency is probably enough to get you to the top.
So, congratulations to the Minnesota Vikings' special teams, and their coach Mike Priefer. From the laughing stock these units were in 2008 (and, to a lesser degree, just one season ago) to being the best in the National Football League is pretty impressive.