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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Shortcomings on offense sour terrific defensive performance by Vikings’ defensive line

By Matthew Coller

It felt like 2016 all over again.

The Minnesota Vikings’ defensive line spent Sunday afternoon in Matthew Stafford’s face, sacking him six times for a total of 55 yards lost. Pressure from all angles kept Stafford from throwing downfield. He managed just 209 yards on 31 attempts. Quick math for you: That’s only 4.9 yards per drop back.

“Our main focus was to keep [Stafford] in the pocket and not allow him to make plays with his legs,” defensive end Danielle Hunter said. “That was our job, keep him in the pocket. He’s a scrambler. We saw on film that he made plays with his legs.”

Hunter had two sacks, blowing by right tackle Rick Wagner to get shots at Stafford. On the other side, Everson Griffen had another terrific game with one sack and two tackles for loss.

”We did a good job up front, but this is a team game, the greatest team game in the world,” Griffen said. “The biggest thing we have to do now is go back to the tape. The biggest factor for us is turnovers. Any time we lose the turnover battle, it turns out bad for us. We need to elimate the turnovers and make the plays where they need to be made.”

While running back Ameer Abdullah ended up with 94 yards rushing, most of his carries came on the outside because nose tackle Linval Joseph was clogging up the middle of the field. Joseph ended up with one sack, nine tackles and made an impact on a number of other plays.

“I thought the defense played their hearts out today,” head coach Mike Zimmer said.

The performance was reminiscent of a number of 2016 games. Four times the Vikings’ defense allowed fewer than 21 points and lost last season. The Lions only need 14 to win on Sunday.

The Vikings turned the ball over three times, all on fumbles, including one on the final drive by Adam Thielen.

”I just caught the ball and tried to turn up fiend and he got me from behind,” Thielen said. “But that’s football, man. You have to make those plays and you have to secure the ball.”

Quarterback Case Keenum came back to earth after a career-best performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He went 16-for-30 with 219 yards, no touchdowns or interceptions. Keenum had the ball in his hands with a chance to tie the game late in the fourth quarter, but was sacked on third down then threw an incompletion out of the back of the end zone on fourth down.

“I think he did OK,” Zimmer said when asked about Keenum’s performance. “It’s hard to tell during the course of a game.”

The difference maker in this year’s offense Dalvin Cook went down early in the third quarter, forcing the Vikings to pass the ball more often. Latavius Murray rushed seven times for just 21 yards – close to the Vikings’ yards per carry average from last year.

The Vikings are likely going to have to continue to rely on great defensive performances to give themselves a chance to win on a weekly basis. There has been no concrete update on Sam Bradford’s status and Cook appears out long term.

The post Shortcomings on offense sour terrific defensive performance by Vikings’ defensive line appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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