Minnesota Vikings sneak past Rams, move into 1st place tie in NFC North


Halfway through the season, the Minnesota Vikings are tied for first place in the NFC North.

Pretty awesome, right?

The Vikings were able to grind out a terrific win against a gritty St. Louis Rams team Sunday afternoon by a score of 21-18. This win, along with the Green Bay Packers falling to the Carolina Panthers, moves the Vikings into a first place tie with the Packers in the NFC North at 6-2.

Minnesota was motivated by a nasty hit by Rams defensive back LaMarcus Joyner that sent Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to the locker room with a concussion. As Bridgewater is in the midst of sliding, Joyner leads with his shoulder/elbow right at Bridgewater’s head, knocking him out cold.

Without Bridgewater for most of the second half, the Vikings were forced to grind it out with Adrian Peterson and trust their stingy defense to hold Todd Gurley and the Rams offense in check. With the help of a Blair Walsh 40-yard game-winning field goal in overtime, the Vikings were just BLAIRLY able to get the job done.

Peterson finished the day with 125 yards rushing on 29 carries, providing the foundation for the Vikings offense all day long. Bridgewater, when he was in the game, had decent success using play action that was opened up by Peterson’s success on the ground, although he did miss a few throws that could’ve been big gains. Overall, Bridgewater finished with 144 yards passing while completing 13 of 21 attempts. He also scrambled for a rushing touchdown and the ensuing two-point conversion.

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Defensively, the Vikings were able to contain Gurley fairly well all game, as he was only able to gain 89 yards rushing on 24 carries. A big reason for that was Vikings defensive tackle Linval Joseph, who was once again absolutely dynamite against the run, making a number of impact plays in the backfield and pushing the Rams offensive line backwards constantly. He finished with 10 total tackles (3 for loss) and a half sack.

St. Louis was able to have some offensive success outside of Gurley mainly due to the effectiveness of Tavon Austin on the jet sweep/end around play. Aside from the last couple attempts, the Vikings showed poor discipline on these plays as Austin consistently got around the corner for big gains. Austin finished with 66 yards on 8 attempts.

Rams quarterback Nick Foles was generally ineffective all game besides a long 55-yard pass to Kenny Britt. Overall, Foles completed just 18 of 33 pass attempts for 168 yards.

The game was sent to overtime when Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein (who also converted a 61-yard field goal in the game) drilled a 53-yard field goal attempt with just 17 seconds remaining to tie the game up at 18.

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Minnesota won the toss to begin overtime, but elected to play with the wind instead of receiving the ball. While the call may have seemed risky at the time, it proved to be the right decision from head coach Mike Zimmer. The Vikings forced a three-and-out right away, and Marcus Sherels returned the Rams punt 26 yards to the Vikings 49-yard-line. From there, Peterson carried the ball for 20 yards on four attempts to put the Vikings in position for the game-winning 40-yarder from Walsh.

After the win, Zimmer wasn’t afraid to show his frustration in the postgame presser regarding the Rams’ dirty play throughout the game, especially the Joyner hit on Bridgewater. He took a couple shots at Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who was also the orchestrator of the infamous “Bounty Gate” scandal back with the New Orleans Saints in 2009 during the NFC Championship game against Brett Favre and the Vikings. I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of fun watching this presser. Zimmer is just fun, isn’t he?


— Linval Joseph, man. I don’t know what more I can say about this guy. In the absence of Sharrif Floyd for the past few weeks, Joseph has stepped up and replaced Floyd’s production (which says a lot) and then some. He’s constantly wreaking havoc in the backfield, and he was at it again today against the Rams.

— St. Louis tried a number of wide receiver screens today, and I’m pretty sure Captain Munnerlyn destroyed all of them.

— Maybe it’s just me, but Mike Wallace‘s effort is concerning. Since the emergence of Diggs, Wallace’s production has certainly dropped but his demeanor and attitude also appears to have dropped. This is just my opinion and maybe it’s a crazy one, but I feel strongly enough about it to include it in my observations.

— Yeah, yeah, the Rams defensive line was without Robert Quinn. However, that defensive line is still extremely talented and the Vikings’ offensive line kept them in check throughout the game. If you ask me, that’s a successful day against that line.

— Let’s hope Bridgewater is able to return next week, because despite some of Teddy’s accuracy issues, Shaun (over the) Hill has not earned any trust from me whatsoever and I think I’m speaking for most Vikings fans when I say this.

Next: Timberwolves show glimpse of future in win over Bulls


The Minnesota Vikings travel to Oakland next Sunday to take on a Raiders team that has surprised some people this season, putting up a mark of 4-4 on the season. Stay tuned to Sporting Sota for news and analysis on the Vikings throughout the week.