This is getting pretty fun, isn’t it?
In one of the most highly anticipated games of the Week 11 NFL slate, the 7-2 Minnesota Vikings dispatched the 7-2 Los Angeles Rams by a score of 24-7. After allowing the Rams to march down the field on the opening drive, the Vikings defense slammed the door shut for the remainder of the game. Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, and the (former) top offense in the NFL were held to less than 200 yards and zero points after their initial score. The big plays that had become a signature of LA’s attack in recent weeks were nonexistent on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Vikings offense racked up 451 yards of offense, didn’t allow a sack, and didn’t commit a turnover. Case Keenum kept rolling with another good game, ensuring that he will be the starter as we’re stuffing our faces on Thanksgiving.
The Minnesota Vikings are 8-2 and playing like a complete team on both sides of the ball. Call me The Weeknd, because I can’t feel my face, but I love it.
Let’s get into what is becoming a delightfully repetitive exercise this season: recapping the five biggest plays from a Vikings victory.
Play 1: Rams ball, 3rd & 10 on the Los Angeles 10. First quarter, 2:31 remaining. J.Goff sacked at LA 1 for -9 yards (D.Hunter).
With the Rams still leading 7-0 late in the first quarter, the raucous crowd at US Bank had just forced Goff to call a timeout on third and long from deep in his own territory. When they came out of the timeout, things didn’t get any easier for the Rams quarterback.
Danielle Hunter didn’t even really attempt a pass rush move against Rams right tackle Rob Havenstein. Instead, he just shoved Havenstein into Goff, which in turn toppled Andrew Whitworth. So basically Hunter took out three Rams players at once simply by using his brute strength. Johnny Hekker was forced to punt out of the back of his own end zone (a play that Mike Zimmer strangely challenged). After the Marcus Sherels return and a Rams penalty for an illegal shift, the Vikings took over at the LA 30. Seven plays later, Latavius Murray scored his first of two touchdowns and the game was tied.
Hunter is already an amazing player. Once he can expand his repertoire of moves a little, he has a chance to be otherworldly.
Play 2: Rams ball, 3rd & 4 at the Minnesota 11. Second quarter, 4:11 remaining. J.Goff pass short middle to C.Kupp to MIN 1 for 10 yards (A.Harris). FUMBLES (A.Harris), RECOVERED by MIN-A.Harris at MIN 1. A.Harris to MIN 1 for no gain (C.Kupp).
Most weeks I’m genuinely curious as to what you readers will choose as the biggest play of the week in our poll. This week, I’m fairly certain I know which one will win.
Cooper Kupp had the crucial third down conversion and it looked like the Rams were about to have first and goal from the 1. Anthony Harris had other ideas. He stripped Kupp of the ball at the last moment and saved a go-ahead score late in the first half. The Rams didn’t sniff the end zone the rest of the day after this huge play.
Play 3: Vikings ball, 3rd & 2 at the Los Angeles 49. Third quarter, 7:46 remaining. (No Huddle, Shotgun) C.Keenum pass deep left to A.Thielen ran ob at LA 24 for 25 yards.
This third down conversion with the game still tied in the third quarter was big for a few reasons.
First, it was a crucial play that put the Vikings in scoring position with the game still very much in the balance. Second, it showcased how ridiculously good Adam Thielen is. He put a filthy move on Blake Countess to get wide open down the sideline and laid out to make the catch.
But it also highlights a missed opportunity. This pass could have come back to haunt the Vikings later on. If Keenum hits Thielen in stride there, it’s at least another 15-20 yards and possibly a score. Instead, the Vikings settled for a 39-yard field goal attempt later in the drive, which Kai Forbath clanged off the upright. That missed kick signified the biggest drop in win probability of the entire game for the Vikings. If their defense hadn’t stymied the Rams down the stretch, this play could have been even more significant.
Keenum and the Vikings are playing great overall. But this was a microcosm of some of the little things they can still do a little better.
Thankfully, Thielen did much better early in the fourth.
Play 4: Vikings ball, 2nd & 10 at the Minnesota 35. Fourth quarter, 10:24 remaining. (Shotgun) C.Keenum pass short left to A.Thielen for 65 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
To paraphrase Omar from The Wire: if you come at the Keenum, you best not miss.
The Rams came at Keenum.
And Thielen made them pay.
The Rams came with a big blitz that was expertly picked up by the Vikings line, Keenum found Thielen on a quick hook, and Adam was off to the races. Thielen’s speed on this play (20.58 mph) was the fastest recorded of any player in Week 11. Not bad for a guy that...
...you know what? We’ve already heard Thielen’s backstory 1,000 times. Let’s just appreciate how he is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL and how this play doubled the Vikings’ lead in a crucial game.
Play 5: Vikings ball, 1st & 10 at the Minnesota 27. Fourth quarter, 6:24 remaining. L.Murray left tackle to LA 39 for 34 yards (L.Joyner). PENALTY on MIN-A.Thielen, Illegal Block Above the Waist, 10 yards, enforced at LA 39.
If Thielen’s touchdown started to ice away the game, this run from Latavius Murray was the Zamboni that finished the job.
Murray had a big game against the Rams, amassing 95 yards and two scores on the day. He and Jerick McKinnon continue to be a 1-2 punch that is taking the a lot of the sting out of losing Dalvin Cook. Murray seems to be gaining confidence with each passing week and it’s paying some big dividends.
This long run was made ten yards shorter thanks to an iffy penalty on Thielen, but it still set up a field goal that restored some of Kai Forbath’s confidence and made it a three-score game. With how relentless the Vikings defense was all day, we knew that the 17-point lead would be enough to get to 8-2.
That’s six wins in a row for our beloved purple and gold, but the toughest three-game stretch of the season is still imminent. Vote for your biggest play from Sunday’s win below, and let us know if we missed any in the comments.
What was the most important play from the Vikings’ win over the Rams?
This poll is closed
Harris’ forced fumble
Thielen’s diving third down conversion
Murray’s big run
Other (comment below)