In close games and in critical moments, the 2-9 Vikings have had a difficult time making enough plays to win throughout the season.
“Sometimes the balls just roll for you, sometimes it’s rolling against you, but it really comes down to players making plays,” Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen said in a conference call today. “When we have the opportunity to make them, you have to make them, and we haven’t been able to this year.”
The Vikings’ upcoming opponent in Denver has found a way to make those plays late in games.
With Tim Tebow starting at quarterback, the Broncos are 5-1 in their last six games and the last three wins have been decided by seven points or less.
It’s been a total team effort for Denver as of late, with the defense and special teams units stepping up consistently, and the Tebow-led offense has found a way to come through in the clutch time and time again with decisive drives.
In studying the Broncos, Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said he sees a team in Denver that believes close games are theirs to win.
“It seems like in Denver they are believing,” Frazier said in a conference call. “Tim will figure out a way to get the ball into the end zone or get it close enough to kick a field goal. We just have to keep it close. When you have a team that believes like that, it’s just lifts everybody’s confidence and guys start believing in that leader and sure enough that seems to be what’s been happening.”
“If we hang around and let the game stay close, then that’s going to create problems for us because they have their whole playbook,” Allen added. “And Tebow can do what he does.”
With Tebow, the Vikings know they are up against a quarterback that thrives in late game situations and they also know he’ll carry the ball on the ground quite a bit in the Broncos option attack. Frazier added that Percy Harvin –- a teammate of Tebow’s at University of Florida -– will be used as source of information in regards to the option offense.
Last week Tebow carried the ball 22 times in the win over San Diego — a total more commonly seen next to a running back’s name on the stat sheet.
“It’s something that you don’t really expect to see,” Frazier said. “Now, with Tim at quarterback, you do have to prepare that way. It’s almost, in some ways, like having a running back in the backfield, because those numbers are the kind of numbers we’d like to get for Adrian (Peterson) each week.”
Frazier shared his thoughts on several other Broncos during the conference call.
On Von Miller: “He doesn’t play like a rookie. Some of the things that he does—his explosiveness, his awareness, the instincts that he has, the power that he has— it’s just very impressive. He’s going to have a great future in the NFL.”
On Eric Decker: “He does have some deceptive speed, and he runs very good routes as well. But part of it is like what you said, they’re running the ball so effectively—the No. 1 rushing team in the league—that you commit so many people to the run and all of a sudden Eric is behind your secondary.”
On the Denver defense: “Their front is really coming along. (Brodrick) Bunkley is playing extremely well, and obviously, the pressure that Von has created on opposing offensive linemen has really helped their secondary and their linebackers in general; but their front in particular has really gotten our attention as we’ve studied the tape.”