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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Vikings’ run game comes alive vs. Cardinals

By Matthew Coller

It would have been polite to say the Minnesota Vikings’ running game was non-existent through the first five weeks of the season.

They entered Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals 30th in yards and yards per carry. But those numbers will look much better on Monday after the Vikings rushed for 195 yards in a 27-17 win at US Bank Stadium.

Latavius Murray led the way with 155 yards on 24 carries, including a 34-yarder and a 21-yard touchdown.

“We’ve been wanting to run the ball that way all season,” Murray said. “We knew that we were capable of doing that, it was just a matter of going out there and doing it.”

The Cardinals have struggled to stop the run all year, giving up the third most total rushing yards in the NFL and most rushing touchdowns heading into Sunday’s game.

”They have been vulnerable to the run so far this season and we wanted to take advantage of that,” Murray said.

Last year Murray was the team’s leading rusher on a team that combined for more than 1,400 yards on the ground between he and Jerick McKinnon. With Dalvin Cook in and out of the lineup while battling a hamstring issue, the team turned to Murray and Mike Boone for a quality rushing attack.

The Vikings haven’t needed a run game to put points on the board — as evidenced by a 31-point performance against Los Angeles and a win against Philadelphia — but they needed to hand off effectively when receiving the ball with around three minutes remaining in the game to close things out and leave no openings for a Cardinal comeback.

”Not giving them a chance to go down and score or try for an [onside kick] or all that crazy stuff that can happen at the end of a game, giving an opportunity to put the game away is huge,” Murray said.

The much-maligned offensive line had issues at times with pass protection, but dominated in run blocking, especially in the middle with center Pat Elflein opening up holes for Murray and Boone for big gains.

”We just had to come out there and establish a mentality that we were going to run the football,” Elflein said. “I think we did that. It was not just one guy, it was all five guys, the tight ends, receivers blocking and doing their job and when you do that, you get explosive runs.”

Elflein was forced to return from offseason surgery to the lineup against two of the best interior defensive lines in the NFL in Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Against Arizona, Elflein was more effective getting his opponent’s defensive lineman turned to open holes.

“This is the NFL so you’re playing against great players all the time, the first two games, those are two of the highly known players, to be able to come back, it feels good,” Elflein said. “I’m feeling better each week. To [run effectively] is promising and it’s fun.”

Naturally the offensive line felt as good as anyone about closing out the game without having the give the ball back to the Cardinals.

”That was good, we knew in the huddle what we had to do,” Elflein said. “Run the ball out to end the game. To be able to know the situation and execute and go out and do it is huge. I think we took a step in the right direction in the running game today.

The post Vikings’ run game comes alive vs. Cardinals appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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