You know, eventually I'm going to get my head wrapped around my own schedule and get these things done earlier on in the week. This week I failed to do that, so even though our game with the Denver Broncos is tomorrow afternoon, we need to take one last look back at the Minnesota Vikings' game against the Atlanta Falcons and discover the top five defensive plays that the Vikings made in that particular contest.
The big one is actually a special teams play, but it was as big a play as the Vikings had on the afternoon. It came as a part of the Vikings' second drive of the second half. Facing a 4th-and-8 at their own 22-yard line, it appeared that the Vikings were facing a three-and-out to start the second half of play. Chris Kluwe's punt traveled into Atlanta territory, bouncing along the Georgia Dome turf, when fullback Ryan D'Imperio made a very heads-up play by pushing Falcons' cornerback Dominique Franks into the bouncing ball. It was ruled a muffed punt, and D'Imperio alertly jumped on the ball at the Atlanta 36, giving the Vikings the ball back. The play set up the Vikings' second touchdown of the day, and put the momentum firmly in the corner of Minnesota.
The next biggest offensive play, in my opinion, came towards the end of the first half, with the Falcons facing a 1st-and-10 from the Minnesota 24-yard line with about a minute left before halftime. Matt Ryan took the snap and dropped back to pass, and was running for his life with an angry Kevin Williams chasing after him. Williams hit Ryan, causing him to fumble the ball, but unfortunately the Falcons' signal caller was able to fall on it just before Letroy Guion got to it for an 8-yard loss. The Falcons did manage a field goal out of the drive, but Williams' play in that particular instance probably kept it from being a touchdown.
Three other big defensive plays for the Vikings against the Falcons:
-On a drive that the Falcons started at the end of the first quarter and carried into the second, Everson Griffen sacked Matt Ryan for an 8-yard loss on 3rd-and-10 from the Atlanta 46. The Falcons had the momentum at that point, and Griffen getting through to sack Ryan forced a punt that could have changed it back.
-On the drive following the big Christian Ponder to Percy Harvin touchdown pass, the Falcons attempted to hit Roddy White on a fade into the end zone that Benny Sapp broke up beautifully. Sapp certainly had his share of problems against the Falcons, but that was a very nice play by the new guy.
-On Atlanta's first drive of the second half, they started out with decent field position at their own 38. On a 3rd-and-7, Ryan found Tony Gonzalez for what looked to be a Falcons' first down, but Chad Greenway stopped the greatest tight end in NFL history a yard short of the marker, forcing an Atlanta punt and giving the Vikings the ball back for what would be their first scoring drive of the afternoon.