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Skol Schemes, Week 13: Red Zone Radiance

Looking at how the Vikings’ defense stood strong

NFL: New York Jets at Minnesota Vikings Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

In football, the red zone is the area arbitrarily determined to be 20 yards out from the end zone. Allegedly, this is where touchdowns are to be scored. The Vikings’ defense clearly does not subscribe to this as they held the Jets to just one touchdown on six trips to the red zone in a 27-22 win. When teams cross the 20, space condenses, matchups become even more crucial, and execution errors are exposed with grander consequences.

The Vikings’ defense showed discipline, technique, and some Minnesota Magic on the way to a successful red zone day. Let’s take a look at each trip:

#1: Can’t fool me

It took until the third quarter for the Jets to enter the red zone in Week 13. Before they got there, the Vikings’ defense showed great discipline in order to turn a trick play into a throw away:

On the next play, the Jets ran a shovel pass. On this type of look, the offense is trying to expand the Defensive End with the Running Back threatening outside, then the shovel man would follow the pulling guard up to the next level. Instead, Danielle Hunter folded back in to make the play as the Jets crossed the sacred 20 yard line:

The next play was a 3rd down incompletion and we chalked our first victory for the Vikings’ defense.

#2: You can’t do that

On their second trip to the red zone, the Jets decided they wanted to make life harder for themselves. After an illegal block in the back penalty, the Jets failed to execute on a screen and go from a similar look. Once again, a third down incompletion gave the Vikings’ defense a win in the red zone.

#3: Whatever it takes

As the Jets continued to tally field goals, they found themselves inside the 10 yard line. The Jets tested the edge of the Vikings’ defense and Patrick Peterson made an uncommon tackle:

Za’Darius Smith also got in on the Vikings veteran playmaking party with a pass deflection on 3rd down. If the throw got through, it does not look like the Jets would have scored, but the knockdown also discouraged a potential 4th and short go for it call.

#4: You win some (or a lot), you lose some

After the Vikings scored to make it 27-15, the Jets stormed back with a 48 yard run by Zonovan Knight. A pass interference on the next play and a series of close calls led to a 1 yard QB sneak that finally let the Jets break the dam.

#5: A game of inches

The Jets once again matriculated down the field needing a touchdown to take the lead as the 4th quarter winded down. As the ball inched closer to the end zone, the Vikings’ defense tightened up:

The Jets had a great play call to open up Braxton Berrios, but they did not count on some Minnesota Magic leading to another red zone stop.

#6: Cam’s scam

Earlier this year, we broke down Patrick Peterson’s game winning interception in Quarters coverage in the red zone. Harrison Smith almost got his hands on one before Cam Bynum closed the game:

As polarizing as the Vikings’ defense has been this year, Minnesota would not have notched their 10th win without a stellar red zone performance. The Vikings will look to build on this and enter Week 14 confidently as they take on the Detroit Lions.