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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Vikings’ key to keep Keenum rolling: Third-and-short success

By Matthew Coller

The Minnesota Vikings have been incredible on third-and-short.

They rank third in the NFL, converting 63.9% of third downs with six or fewer yards to go.

Quarterback Case Keenum has completed 73.3% of his passes in those situations with 8.3 yards per attempt, three touchdowns, zero interceptions, one sack and a 114.2 quarterback rating.

The numbers are dramatically different on third-and-long. With more than six yards to go, Keenum has gained just 5.9 yards per attempt, thrown zero touchdowns, two interceptions and managed a 58.6 rating.

It goes without saying that third-and-long is difficult for most quarterbacks, but 24 quarterbacks (with more than 40 attempts) are averaging more yards per attempt on third-and-long than Keenum.

Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur has been at the center of the success on short third downs, finding ways to scheme receivers open or even use play-action.

The Falcons are 22nd on third-and-short, allowing first down 55.6% of the time.

“They play a lot of three deep zone, one deep man on third down,” Shurmur said. “They’re very fast, they’re very active. They don’t have to blitz much and they still get a ton of pressure on the quarterback.”

Stefon Diggs has been a particularly successful target on third-and-short, catching 14 passes on 17 attempts with 12 first downs and three touchdowns.

Kyle Rudolph has nine catches in those situations and has nine first downs – the most notable coming late in the Vikings’ win over the Los Angeles Rams. He stretched out the ball on a short pass to set up first-and-goal. Adam Thielen has added 13 first downs on 25 third-and-short targets.

Rushing hasn’t been much of an opion for the Vikings in key short-yardage situations (outside of the goal line). Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon have totaled only six carries and gained first downs four times on third-and-short.

If you’re wondering, the Falcons’ offense is No. 1 in the NFL in third-and-short percentage and the Vikings’ defense ranks third.

The post Vikings’ key to keep Keenum rolling: Third-and-short success appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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