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Bleacher Report – Vikings

15-play drive keys Vikings’ gritty win over Falcons

By Matthew Coller

The Minnesota Vikings can win by airing it out or grinding opponents down. They proved the latter with a X-X win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

With 8:06 remaining in the third quarter, the Vikings took over at their own 11-yard line trailing by two points. Throughout the first half, Minnesota’s offense had sputtered outside of one touchdown drive, which was sparked by a short field. The combination of a Cover-3 zone and strong pass rush made it difficult for Case Keenum to work the ball down field. So offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur dialed up a cloud-of-dust gameplan.

On the Vikings’ 15-play drive, which took up more than eight minutes, they only had one play over 10 yards – a 19-yard catch by receiver Stefon Diggs. Keenum completed passes on third-and-short to Laquon Treadwell and Jarius Wright for key first downs. Latavius Murray added a third-and-1 conversion in the red zone, setting up a 6-yard toss to wide open Kyle Rudolph to put the Vikings up.

During the first 30 minutes, the Falcons got pressure on Keenum, sacking him twice for a loss of 20 total yards. On the Vikings’ long drive, the Falcons rarely put pressure on Keenum because they were never given a chance.

The Vikings’ offensive attack was reminiscent of their Monday Night Football win over the Chicago Bears in Week 5 when Keenum went 17-for-21 passing, largely on short throws and runs.

Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur has consistently found ways to adjust at halftime. Against the Ravens, Browns and Falcons, Keenum struggled early on, then found ways to move the ball in the second half, leading the Vikings to wins.

The Vikings came into the game as one of the five best offenses in the NFL. The question is whether they could continue that pace against a Falcons defense that brought speed and playmaking ability. Showing offensive versatility speaks to the Vikings’ argument for being the NFC’s best team. Keenum completed passes to nine difference receivers and five different players registered a run.

Up 14-9, the Vikings’ offense was again called upon to guide clock after a missed Matt Bryant field goal. A key 21-yard throw to Adam Thielen put the game on ice and Keenum finished the game 25-for-30 with 227 yards and two touchdowns. The Vikings ran for 107 yards on 29 carries.

On defense, the Vikings were flat-out incredible against a Falcons team that came into the game on fire. Matt Ryan went just 17-for-30 with 173 yards and zero touchdowns.

The Vikings now have wins against three of the NFC’s best in New Orleans, Los Angeles and Atlanta. Next week they match up with one of the NFL’s best defenses in Carolina. Following the win over the Falcons, there doesn’t appear to be a team in the entire NFL that you would argue is decidedly better.

The post 15-play drive keys Vikings’ gritty win over Falcons appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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