Vikings' Allen battles with Packers' Clifton yet again
By Chip Scoggins
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
MINNEAPOLIS - Jared Allen was asked last season which left tackles he's had the best one-on-one matchups with in his career.
"Me and (Chad) Clifton up in Green Bay have had some good battles," he said.
Unfortunately for the Packers, Clifton wasn't available for either of their games against the Vikings last season because of injury. Allen had a field day with his replacements, Daryn Colledge and T.J. Lang.
Allen collected 7.5 sacks, 15 tackles, four quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and a safety in the two meetings. The Pro Bowl defensive end posted a career-high 4.5 of the team's eight sacks of quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the first meeting. Allen was so dominant in that 30-23 victory that Vikings coach Brad Childress referred to it as a "feeding frenzy."
Allen is expected to face Clifton again Sunday when the Vikings play at Lambeau Field in the first meeting between the teams this season. Allen has only one sack, although he was credited with five quarterback hurries against Dallas on Sunday.
"I think people are kind of shocked," Allen said of his sack total. "It's the first time in my career that it's been five games and I've only had one sack. But you look at last week, we should have had four or five sacks. Tony (Romo) elected to throw the ball and we got (two interceptions) instead."
The Cowboys went with a quick-hitting passing attack, and 15 of Romo's 24 completions were to running backs. He was not sacked, but Childress said the coaching staff credited the defense with 15 pressures and nine quarterback hits.
"It's all about pressure on the quarterback," Childress said. "I know sacks are nice statistics to keep. But nobody keeps hurries and hits. All those things add up."
Allen's pass rush completely disrupted the Packers offense last season and clearly bothered Rodgers. But Allen expects to have a tougher challenge with Clifton back in the lineup, although the veteran tackle has been bothered by a knee injury.
"He's a good player," Allen said. "He's athletic and a powerful guy so it's always fun playing against him. It's been back and forth."
Colledge and Lang had no answer for Allen last season. The Vikings' ability to force the Packers to play from behind and throw the ball also played into his hands. If the Vikings can take an early lead and make the Packers offense become one-dimensional, the defensive linemen can "pin their ears back," Childress said.
"When teams have their whole playbook open, it's different when you're in close games," Allen said. "It's just about rattling the quarterback and making him run what we want him to run."
Allen has said several times recently that sacks often come in bunches, and that certainly was the case for him against Green Bay last season. Despite his spirited matchups with Clifton in the past, Allen said he's focused more on his own game than the guy he's facing Sunday.
"I have enough tape vs. Green Bay in my career," he said. "I've seen everybody they've got to throw at me. Hopefully we can dial some new stuff up for them that they haven't seen."
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