Not only is it one of the biggest clichés that head football coaches say just about every week, but also it’s the pride and soul of Mike Zimmer’s defense.
Zimmer was extra pleased Sunday as the Minnesota Vikings forced seven turnovers in their 39-10 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. It marked the 13th time in franchise history — and the first time since 1995 – that the Vikings posted 7+ takeaways in a single game.
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Oddly enough, Minnesota lost five of its first six games with 7+ takeaways, with every defeat taking place in the 1960s and early 1970s when fumbles were a bit more prevalent.
The Vikings’ offense hasn’t committed seven turnovers since Sept. 18, 2005 in a 37-8 loss to Chad Johnson and the Cincinnati Bengals. Minnesota has turned the ball over 7+ times in nine total games. Unsurprisingly, they are 0-9 in those contests, although three of those losses were by one possession.
Anyway, to honor the Vikings’ seven defensive takeaways, we took a closer look at the 13 occurrences:
Oct. 15, 1961: 49ers 38, Vikings 24
Summary: In its fifth game in franchise history, Minnesota set a team record with eight takeaways. Unfortunately, it didn’t result in a win. San Francisco fumbled the ball six times and quarterback John Brodie tossed two interceptions, but the 49ers outgained the Vikings 555-202 and outscored them 24-7 in the second half.
Nov. 11, 1962: Bears 31, Vikings 30
Summary: Chicago quarterback Billy Wade threw more interceptions than touchdowns over his 13-year NFL career. Take a look at this box score and you’ll see why. Wade threw five picks to Vikings defenders, but his three touchdown passes plus a late 17-yard field goal by Roger LeClerc gave Chicago the win.
Dec. 16, 1962: Colts 42, Vikings 17
Summary: A matchup between two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Fran Tarkenton and Johnny Unitas didn’t go the way of the purple. Minnesota intercepted four passes from Unitas, but it didn’t stop the star quarterback from posting a 95.5 passer rating thanks to 385 yards and four scores. Tarkenton managed to complete a mere six passes for 66 yards. Side note: Unitas threw 4+ interceptions in just seven of his 211 career games played.
Oct. 25, 1964: Vikings 27, 49ers 22
Summary: Finally, the Vikings found paydirt for forcing an absurd number of turnovers. The 49ers played three quarterbacks in this game – Brodie, George Mira and Billy Kilmer — and they combined to throw five interceptions. Three went into the hands of Roy Winston, who is one of 12 Vikings players to tally a hat trick of INTs in a single game.
Oct. 13, 1968: Saints 20, Vikings 17
Summary: Remember Kilmer from the last blurb? Now wearing the black and gold in New Orleans, Kilmer hurled three picks — two to Bobby Bryant and one that resulted in a pick-six. Despite the Saints’ seven turnovers, Minnesota couldn’t erase an early 14-0 deficit and dropped to 3-2 in a season that would result in the franchise’s first playoff berth.