GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - The Minnesota Vikings aren't built like most teams in the NFL. In a pass-happy league, the Vikings are a bit of a throwback.
The offense centers around reigning MVP Adrian Peterson and a top-notch running game, while the defense's success starts with a defensive line that is designed to get to the quarterback -- fast.
Through three games the Vikings rank No. 13 in rushing offense at 120 yards per game, and the defensive has only managed four sacks. They rank No. 29 overall, allowing 429 yards of offense per game.
"We need to play better up front. It's hard for our team to be successful if our offensive line and defensive line aren't playing at a high level and our guys know that and our team knows that and we have to help them get to that point," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said.
The Vikings have done a great job of forcing turnovers this season. They have forced 10 turnovers including four in each of the last two games. But they have also committed 10 turnovers.
"For us to come away four takeaways back-to-back weeks and not win the game, that doesn't happen very often," Frazier said. "But it happens when you are giving the ball back and not playing as well on special teams and it is part of why we are where we are. It is part of why our games are coming down to one series. That is something that has to be corrected."
Even if you are forcing turnovers, there comes a time when ball security costs a team, Frazier explained.
"You can't turn the ball over at the rate we are turning it over and expect to win, unless, and I have said this before, you are so superior than your opponent, and we are not," he said.
The Vikings' quarterback concerns are well documented. Christian Ponder needs to improve on two touchdowns compared to 5 interceptions -- no question. But, the Vikings are hoping that the return of a Pro Bowl player in fullback Jerome Felton will give a spark to the running game as well as the offense as a whole.
"I think it will have a positive impact," Frazier said. "He is a Pro Bowl player. (He) really helped our run game a year ago quite a bit. So we look forward to having him back."
The Vikings will take any spark. With 13 games left, it's hard to think that a season is a total loss, but history shows that it is nearly impossible to bounce back from such a dreadful start. That doesn't mean anybody in purple is throwing in the towel.
"I don't sense that guys are going to be walking around when we are in London as if the season is done. I don't sense that," Frazier said. "I don't sense that at all. I sense that we have real good leadership, and they will handle this in the right way."
The Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers kick off in London at 12 p.m. Central Time on Sunday. Both teams are looking for their first win of the season.
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