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Vikings make a statement with 24-7 victory over Rams

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Los Angeles Rams v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

It was a big game of the week between two NFC teams atop their division and both with 7-2 records. Both teams had top 10 offenses and defenses. Both teams had multiple game win streaks. And the Rams were the top scoring team in the NFL. But after an opening drive TD, the Rams went scoreless the rest of the game, while the Vikings offense slowly gained momentum over the course of the game en route to an impressive 24-7 win against a very good Rams team.

WELL PLAYED GAME

The Vikings executed their game plan to near perfection.

  • Stop Todd Gurley. Check.
  • Don’t give up big plays. Check.
  • Win turnover battle. Check.
  • Win the battle up front on offense. Check.
  • Maintain credible ground game. Check.
  • Get some big plays passing. Check.

It was probably the best game the Vikings have played, and against top quality competition, in the Mike Zimmer era. Not many mistakes. A number of big-time plays on both offense and defense.

The only key mistakes were on Kai Forbath, who missed two field goals.

VIKINGS DEFENSE DOMINATES RAMS OFFENSE

Going into today’s game:

  • The Rams were averaging 32.9 points per game. The Vikings held them to 7, the lowest point total they’ve allowed all season. After the Rams opening drive TD with 10:48 left in the first quarter, the Vikings held the Rams scoreless the remaining 49 minutes, 12 seconds in the game.
  • The Rams were #1 in the league in 3rd down conversions, with a 47.62% rate. The Vikings were #2 in preventing conversions on 3rd down, with a 28.7% rate. The Rams went 3/11 on third down- a 27% rate. Win Vikings. The Vikings also stopped them on a key 4th down too.
  • The Vikings also held the Rams to 1/3 in the red zone, an area where the Rams have struggled oddly. The Vikings are #3 in the league in denying red zone TDs, with a 41.67% rate allowed, and did even better than that today.
  • Todd Gurley, averaging 129 yards from scrimmage per game this season, was held to less than half that today - only 56 yards total. Only 2.46 yards per rush and 6.3 yards per reception.
  • The Rams were averaging 389 yards per game on offense- 3rd best in the league. The Vikings were allowing an average of 295 yards per game. - 5th best in the league. They allowed a total of 254 yards today.

Overall, one of the more dominating games the Vikings defense has played this season, and against the top-ranked offense in the league.

VIKINGS OFFENSE BUILDS MOMENTUM, OVERPOWERS RAMS DEFENSE

The flow and momentum of the game offensively for the Vikings was dictated up front. Early on, the Rams defensive front had the upper hand at times, but over the course of the game, the Vikings offensive line overpowered the Rams, leading to bigger holes, and bigger gains, for Latavius Murray. Not to mention cleaner pockets for Case Keenum to throw the ball later in the game.

That led to a dominant performance overall for the Vikings offense:

  • The Vikings offense was ranked 9th going in to the game with an average of 363 yards per game. The Rams defense was 14th, allowing 322 yards per game. The Vikings had 451 yards today.
  • The Vikings offensive line once again allowed zero sacks.
  • The Rams were allowing 18 points per game. The Vikings scored 24, with two missed field goals.
  • The Vikings went a perfect 2/2 in the red zone. 7/7 in the past two games.
  • The Rams were giving up 37% of third down conversions. The Vikings were averaging 45%. Today they converted 50% of 3rd downs. And went 1/1 on 4th down.
  • Vikings had 171 yards rushing, well over the 118 yards the Rams have allowed on average this season and coincidentally, the Vikings gained on average too.
  • The Rams allowed an average of 204 yards passing per game. The Vikings had 280, more than the 245 yards they’ve averaged going into the Rams game.
  • Case Keenum turned in another very solid performance, going 27/38 for 280 yards, a TD, no picks, and a 100.8 passer rating.
  • Vikings also had a lopsided advantage in time of possession, which wore down the Rams defense, holding the ball for 37:22, while the Rams had the ball for only 22:38.

DEPTH IN DEFENSIVE SECONDARIES KEY

The Vikings were without starting safety Andrew Sendejo today, who was replaced by Anthony Harris. Harris had the key big play of the first half, forcing and recovering a fumble on the 1-yard line, killing a key Rams drive.

Later, the Rams lost starting cornerback Kayvon Webster to a concussion. He was replaced by Dominique Hatfield. Hatfield was picked on often by Keenum, including the big play of the second half, a 65-yard touchdown pass to Adam Thielen on a hitch-route against Hatfield, who gave up the big TD with poor positioning on an otherwise routine completion.

Those two plays were fairly decisive in determining the ultimate outcome of the game.

SOME KEY BAD CALLS

The Vikings were able to overcome a couple bad calls, and were the beneficiary of another.

One bad call was a missed defensive pass interference penalty in the endzone on a long pass to Adam Thielen. The Rams defender was clearly face guarding Thielen, and made contact with him, and never looked back for the ball. That would have given the Vikings a first-and-goal at the one yard line. Instead, the Vikings missed a field goal attempt.

Another bad call was the personal foul on Anthony Barr for roughing the passer. It was particularly a bad call made by the referee, who was behind QB Jared Goff and couldn’t see where Barr contacted Goff. Replay showed he hit Goff in the chest, and was a hard, but clean hit. That penalty extended a Rams drive that ultimately resulted in Rams fumble at the one yard line.

The last key bad call was Latavius Murray’s second touchdown. It was difficult to see, but the replay looked like Murray never got the ball over the goal line before he was down. But it was also a difficult call to reverse, as the replay did not provide a clear view of the ball.

BOTTOM LINE

The Vikings have been rising to the challenge through a crucial stretch in their schedule against some high quality competition, beating the Redskins on the road, and now another 7-2 team and the league’s top offense at home. That bodes well for the future, and is making a statement across the league At 8-2, the Vikings are tied for the second-best record in the league, or best, depending on the outcome of he Eagles-Cowboys game tonight.

Stay tuned.

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