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Updated: November 28th, 2012 3:31pm
Vikings continue to stress importance of winning turnover battle

Vikings continue to stress importance of winning turnover battle

by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings placed an emphasis on winning the turnover battle heading into last Sunday's game in Chicago.

The intention might have been good, but the execution was far from successful.

The Vikings finished their 28-10 loss at Soldier Field with three turnovers, including fumbles lost by Adrian Peterson and Christian Ponder. Ponder also threw an interception late in the first half.

The Bears turned Peterson's first-quarter fumble and Ponder's interception into 14 points.

In their five losses, the Vikings have 12 turnovers with eight of them having led to 48 points by their opponents. Three others have ended with kneel downs by the opposing offense and only one has ended in a punt. In their six victories, the Vikings have seven turnovers.

"It's a big deal on the road," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said of the turnovers. "I hate to go back to the last ballgame but we definitely emphasized it, and we need to play clean football to have a chance to win this game on Sunday (at Green Bay).

"This is a high-powered offense, they've got a good defense with some good players so we can't put them on short fields. We've got to protect the football and then we've got to take it away. We'll emphasize it in practice, we'll work on it and then we've got to go out and get it accomplished."

The Vikings are 23rd in the NFL in take-away/give-away margin at minus-5, having forced only 14 turnovers (six interceptions, eight fumbles) and turned over the ball 19 times (nine and 10). The Packers, meanwhile, are 10th in take-away/give-away margin at plus-5.

How important is that statistic?

The Bears, who lead the NFC North with an 8-3 record, are tied with the New York Giants for second in the NFL at plus-13. Only two of the teams below the Vikings in turnover margin - Pittsburgh (6-5) and Indianapolis (7-4) - have winning records.

"Obviously it's very important in every game and especially when you're on the road," Ponder said of limiting turnovers. "You never want to give the home team that much momentum and we kept doing that last week.

"We have to keep the ball in our hands and convert on third downs and keep our defense off the field. (You keep) going three-and-out or handing the ball (over), you put your defense in a tough spot. We want to limit those turnovers and that's one of the highest correlations when you turn the ball over to losing games." 

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
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