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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Vikings make case for being NFL’s best team

By Matthew Coller

Odell Beckham ripped his helmet off in frustration. Eli Manning made angry Eli Manning faces and gestures. The New York Giants’ offensive line looked exasperated. These have become common scenes for teams that play the 4-0 Minnesota Vikings, who should now be considered the NFL’s top team.

If last week’s eight-sack performance against Cam Newton was a defensive masterpiece, Monday Night’s 24-10 win over the New York Giants was an instant classic. Mike Zimmer’s defense befuddled Manning, keeping him to 25-for-45 with 261 yards, zero touchdowns and an interception.

Cornerback Xavier Rhodes flustered Beckham to the point of the receiver lashing out. He then disappeared, finishing with only three catches for 23 yards.

“All-in-all, they are a great team,” Beckham said. “I guess they just came out and played Minnesota Vikings defense.”

Sure did.

The Vikings have now beaten two Super Bowl winning quarterbacks and last year’s MVP.

Oh, and their offense is now showing signs of life.

Sam Bradford played his most impressive game since joining Minnesota via trade one week before the season opener. He threw for 262 yards and did not turn the ball over.

“We have so many guys that can go out and make plays,” tight end Kyle Rudolph said. “It makes us tough to defend.”

Up until Monday, there were plenty of questions about the playmakers. Could receivers not named Stefon Diggs get involved? Could the offensive line step up? Could the Vikings have some semblance of a running game?

Check. Check. Check.

Charles Johnson, who had been a ghost for the first three games of the year, had two huge catches for 70 yards, including a 44-yard reception that set up a touchdown. Cordarrelle Patterson had five catches against the Giants, which was unexpected considering he only played 61 total offensive plays last season and had just two catches in 2015. His athleticism and explosiveness adds a new dimension to the offense.

“God gave you eyes in the front of our head to see where you’re going not where you’ve been,” Patterson said. “I’m focused on this week. We’ve got the Texans next week, that’s the main goal, to come out 5-0.”

The offensive line played their best game, with Jeremiah Sirles stepping in for Andre Smith and shutting down Jason Pierre-Paul. The Giants didn’t get a sack on Sam Bradford. And the running game posted 104 yards on 33 carries, 85 of which came from Jerick McKinnon.

“I think we’ve been really close in every game,” fullback Zach Line said. “We go back on Mondays and watch the film and it’s one guy here or there and it would be a gaping hole. Tonight we played with a chip on our shoulder which I think this team does well, even when we’re winning I think we’re unselfish. The defense has been carrying us, for sure, but tonight the offense came out and showed up.”

The rushing game and Bradford’s execution of the offense helped the Vikings control the ball for 35:32 seconds and convert eight of 16 third downs attempts.

“Sam is a baller,” said Rudolph, who caught his third touchdown in three games with Bradford. “You can see him getting more and more comfortable now, not only at the line of scrimmage but in the huddle and as a leader of this offense and of this team. Guys kind of gravitate toward his energy now and he’s bringing it out there. He’s bringing a little bit more fire.”

Bradford still has not turned the ball over in three games.

“He’s done a remarkable job, No. 1 and No. 2, he’s been awful gritty in these ball games,” Zimmer said.

Minnesota GM Rick Spielman traded for Bradford because he believed the Vikings were a quarterback away from being a serious contender. So far he’s been right.

But can the Vikings continue to be the team to beat in the NFC? The schedule will keep throwing tests at them. Next week is the Houston Texans, then a bye week and then Zimmer’s defense will face the most exciting young player in the league in Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.

Minnesota proved on Monday that all the tools – not just the ones on defense – are there to stay at the top of the NFL.

The post Vikings make case for being NFL’s best team appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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