QB change, Smoot's injury keyed turnaround

After watching film of the Vikings' 38-13 loss to the Panthers in Week 8 that dropped them to 2-5, it was easy to write them off. They didn't tackle. Cornerback Fred Smoot got routinely burned by Steve Smith on the outside. Quarterback Daunte Culpepper left the game with a torn knee. The team seemingly had given up.

Through those first seven games, the Vikings gave up 27.5 points per game and had only 10 takeaways, six of them interceptions. Over the course of the next six games -- all Vikings victories -- they have allowed 15.5 points per game, have 22 takeaways and 17 interceptions.

So what has been the biggest factor in the turnaround of this opportunistic defense? Well, it starts on the other side of the ball.