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Bleacher Report – Vikings

5 impact plays that led Vikings over Packers

By Matthew Coller

The Minnesota Vikings received solid play from their defense and quarterback Sam Bradford in Week 2’s 17-14 win over the Green Bay Packers, but which plays and players made the biggest difference in the win? Was Stefon Diggs as valuable as his numbers imply? Let’s have a look…

Stefon Diggs 4-yard catch on 4th and 1
Time: 12:46 left in second quarter
Win Probability Impact: 16.8%

There are many fourth downs that coaches don’t go for because of perceived risk that doesn’t actually exist. In this case, going for it was pretty risky. If the Vikings gave the ball back to the Packers, it would have dropped their Win Probability to about 26% – a 10% drop from if they kicked a field goal. Converting on fourth down and scoring the tying touchdown bumped their chances to 42.8% (it isn’t 50% because the ball was going back to GB, the Vikings went up over 50% when they moved the ball at the end of the half.)

Few things to notice here: First is that Sam Bradford flashed some courage and toughness throwing the ball in the face of a Clay Matthews rushing through the line untouched. Zimmer pointed out in his Monday press conference that Bradford’s ability to throw accurately while falling away from the rush was impressive.

Also Stefon Diggs has been lining up all over the field so far during these first two games. You catch a glimpse in the glip of the defender following him in motion, then having to quickly adjust to Diggs running the other direction. That half second gave Diggs room to make the catch.

Another angle

44 yard pass to Diggs
Time: 2:36 remaining in the second quarter
Win Probability impact: 13.9%

The Vikings started the drive with the game tied at seven and 4:41 remaining in the half. They ended the drive with 31 seconds. Adding three more points and killing a huge chunk of the clock pushed their Win Probability from 46.9% when the drive started to 60.9% when Blair Walsh made a 46-yard field goal to put Minnesota up 10-7. Not only was it a big Win Probability jump, but it turned out to be the difference in the game.

The Vikings’ offensive line had a rough day overall, but not on this play. Bradford had time to allow Diggs to get down the field and room to step up in the pocket and launch a perfect deep ball. Last week, Diggs out-battled his man for the ball on a deep pass, this time he just burns Damarious Randall and the safety cannot get over on the post route. Once again, we see Diggs lining up in the slot. Also notable: This is not a fluke for Bradford, who had great deep ball numbers last season with the Eagles (in a small sample, obviously)

The 4th down stuff
Time: 5:04 remaining in the third quarter
Win Probability impact. 19.3%

Down by just three points at the Minnesota 24 yard line, Rodgers and the Packers had a 58.3% chance to win the game, but that percentage dropped to 39.0% when the Vikings shut down James Starks on 4th-and-1. Not only did they get the ball back with the lead, Bradford and the Vikings then drove down the field for a touchdown that put them up 17-7.

While Brian Robison goes unblocked and makes the tackle, the key to this play is the interior linemen. Linval Joseph pushes the center back three yards into the backfield and and Shamar Stephen sticks his man at the line of scrimmage. James Starks has absolutely nowhere to run.

Stefon Diggs 25-yard TD
Time: 2:16 remaining in third quarter
Win Probability Impact: 30.7%

After the fourth down stuff, the Vikings had a 61.0% chance to win the game. That shot up to 90.7% when Stefon Diggs caught a touchdown late in the third to put Minnesota up by 10.

This play is a masterpiece. After already getting his hand bruised by the Packers’ pass rush, Bradford stands in the pocket in the face of Clay Matthews and Co. and throws a rocket to only a place where Diggs can catch it. This would be a it’s-no-surprise-he-was-picked-first-overall type throw. Other wordly. Diggs’ effort is just as magnificent. Battling Randall for the ball was just one part of it. The Vikings’ top receiver spins his man around, giving him just enough space to go up and get it.

Trae Waynes picks off Rodgers
Time: 1:56 remaining in fourth quarter
Win Probability impact: 23.2%

The Packers took over with at the nine yardline with 4:38 left in the fourth and started mounting a classic Aaron Rodgers game-winning drive. He completed 4-of-5 passes to get Green Bay to midfield where they were looking at about a 30% chance to win. When Waynes intercepted the ball, all the Vikings needed was one first down and the game was over.

Waynes played his man well all night, but when the ball came, he struggled to get a paw on it to break up passes. This time, he was locked on Adams and jumped the route.

An up-close look at his coverage

BONUS impact play: Robison fumble with 7:00 left in the fourth. This play allowed the Vikings to kill some clock before punting it back to Green Bay and pinning them inside the 10.

The post 5 impact plays that led Vikings over Packers appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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