Vikings' defense will try to bounce the Saints

LOS ANGELES — Defensive end Jared Allen, the most menacing (and irreverent) member of Minnesota's defense, will do a little extra film study this week.

Mapping a path to the quarterback? Breaking down the tendencies of an offensive tackle? Sure, he'll do some of that. But this is a different kind of film study.

"I'm going to watch 'Road House,'" Allen said, referring to the 1989 action flick starring Patrick Swayze as a bouncer hired to tame an unruly bar. "He just goes in there and kicks the crap out of everybody. I mean, if you can't get inspired by Patrick Swayze, then you just better give it up."

The Vikings don't have to look far for inspiration this week, of course. On Sunday, they play at New Orleans — in a raucous road house, against the NFL's most prolific offense — with a trip to the Super Bowl at stake.

It will be a major test for a Minnesota defense that absolutely throttled Dallas in a divisional game Sunday, holding the Cowboys to season lows in points (three), yards (248) and first downs (16) in a 34-3 demolition.


The Vikings sacked Tony Romo six times, hit him at least 10 others, and forced three turnovers.

"He was wide-eyed a lot," Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams told reporters afterward. "We were getting after him from the start, and that's what it's going to take next week too."

Getting to Drew Brees won't be easy. Twenty-four quarterbacks were sacked more than him (20), and the Saints have blocked 4-3 defenses — like the Vikings' — better than 3-4 schemes.

"What we saw the Minnesota Vikings do to the Dallas Cowboys, just overpowering their offensive line, that will not happen this weekend down in New Orleans," CBS analyst Phil Simms said. "New Orleans' offensive line, they're like blocks of granite. They can stay in there, not retreat, and they've blocked some pretty good defensive lines over the year. I think they'll give Drew Brees time to throw."

The Vikings have surprised people before. The defense has absorbed its share of body blows this season, the biggest being the loss of middle linebacker and emotional leader E.J. Henderson to a broken leg, and the off-and-on status of star cornerback Antoine Winfield, who sat out six games because of a sprained foot.

The strength of the defense is the front four, with the "Williams Wall" in the middle — unrelated tackles Pat and Kevin Williams — and Allen and Ray Edwards at the ends. Edwards had three sacks against the Cowboys before leaving because of a sprained knee.

Edwards sat out of practice Wednesday and spent eight hours in the training room receiving treatment on his right knee. He told reporters his knee is "good."

Through injuries and adversity, the Vikings' defense has maintained a level of excellence, finishing both this and last season ranked sixth overall. They were second against the rush this season, after finishing No. 1 in 2008 and '07.


Much of that credit belongs to defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, who has emerged as a top head-coaching candidate (although Buffalo, which interviewed him, wound up hiring Chan Gailey instead).

For the moment, Frazier, Allen and the rest of the Vikings are focused on the task at hand.

"You don't get one game from the Big Show often," Allen said. "But you know you've got to keep it in perspective....

"This is what we play for, the ability to have a chance to go to the Super Bowl, and we're one game away. But the Saints are sitting there saying the same thing... If you lose this one, you're sitting at home on the couch, watching the final game."

And if that were the case, who knows whether Allen would tune in. He might just trade that blockbuster for Blockbuster, and cue "Road House" again.


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