Allen takes NFC sack leadAt this pace, Jared Allen will need a lot of more of those invisible lassos. The enduring images of Minnesota’s recent victory over rival Green Bay are focused on Brett Favre, of course, from the improbability of the 19-year veteran quarterback wearing purple to Favre’s celebration of three touchdown passes against his old team.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — At this pace, Jared Allen will need a lot of more of those invisible lassos.
The enduring images of Minnesota’s recent victory over rival Green Bay are focused on Brett Favre, of course, from the improbability of the 19-year veteran quarterback wearing purple to Favre’s celebration of three touchdown passes against his old team.
The most telling pictures from that game, though, show Allen repeatedly pressuring Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and helping bring him down behind the line of scrimmage five times.
Allen was credited with 4½ of Minnesota’s eight sacks, providing five opportunities to celebrate — in front of a packed Metrodome and the largest cable television audience ever — with his signature calf-roping pantomime. Each time Allen gets a sack, the 27-year-old defensive end drops down on one knee, spins his hand around like he’s twirling a rope, then thrusts both arms in the air to pretend he’s just caught a calf in a rodeo.
The rite is an ode to Allen’s outdoorsman lifestyle off the field, but has also become a trademark of one of the NFL’s elite pass rushers. Early in his second season with the Vikings, Allen has justified the huge price tag — in terms of draft picks and money — that came with last year’s trade with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Allen leads the NFC with 6½ sacks, after getting 14½ and being picked as a first team All-Pro in 2008.
“He has more of a comfort level and with the guys he has played with,” coach Brad Childress said. “He is exactly as advertised: He is a live wire, he keeps things loose in the locker room, he works his tail off on the practice field and he is a good football player. He is fun to have around, and he’s got a great personality.”
Before the Packers game, running back Adrian Peterson told Allen on the sideline he wanted to see his teammate play exceptionally well.
“I was like, ‘Hey, I want to see you rope up a lot. Get that quarterback down a lot in this game. I want to see your special move a lot,”‘ Peterson said.
There was an energy about him before kickoff.
“He just looked ready,” Peterson said. “I really sensed it from a lot of guys.”
Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier expected it, too.
“You know, when you play in big games like that you need your star players to really step up,” Frazier said. “He understood the moment. He understood what we needed from him, and boy, oh, boy did he let it go. It was great to see.”
Allen has played only 20 regular-season games for Minnesota, but he already has a team-record three safeties. His 4½ sacks were the second-most in a single game in Vikings history.
“It was honestly one of the most fun games I’ve been a part of,” Allen said. “The energy level all game was nuts, and that’s what gets you going as a player. You have a bad play and you feel like you let the crowd down and you want to do something to get it back.”
He even lobbied for full credit on the half-sack he shared with Brian Robison.
“I ain’t giving nothing away,” Allen said.
At times, Allen’s pressure has been limited when opponents send tight ends and running backs to help block him. For about a half-dozen plays against the Packers, Frazier shifted Allen from his spot on the right side to the left to force the opponent to alter blocking schemes.
“It was effective,” Frazier said. “We got less chips in the future of that ball game, because they weren’t sure of where he might be. We feel like if we can get him enough one-on-ones, we can get the results we want from him.”