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10 Takeaways from Sunday's Win Over the Rams

Posted Nov 20, 2017

The Vikings keep rolling. Behind a dominant performance from the offensive line and another lock-down outing from the defense, the Vikings defeated the Los Angeles Rams 24-7 on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium to move to 8-2 on the season.

Here are 10 takeaways from the Vikings win on Sunday.

1. The offensive line dominated

The Los Angeles Rams have perhaps the best defensive line on the Vikings 2017 schedule. The Vikings offensive line saved its best game for its best competition. The Minnesota Moving Company was downright dominant against a ferocious Rams defense, allowing no sacks and helping the running backs average 4.9 yards per carry. The Vikings controlled the clock with a 37:22-22:38 time of possession advantage and they drove the ball consistently, with touchdown drives of 71 and 93 yards in the second half and a pair of 11-play and a pair of 12-play series during the game. Quarterback Case Keenum has now had six games in which he’s not been sacked, the Vikings have allowed one sack in the last six games and the Vikings have surrendered only 10 sacks in the first 10 games of the season.

2. Defense took a punch, then delivered the pain

The Rams offense threw a haymaker on the opening drive, but the Vikings defense landed all the punches after that. Jared Goff and Co. drove 75 yards in nine plays to score a touchdown and take an early 7-0 lead. From that point forward, the Rams offense couldn’t muster much of anything. The Rams ensuing possessions ended like this: punt, punt, fumble, end of half, punt, punt, punt, punt, downs. The only time Los Angeles had anything going was in the second quarter on a nine-play, 46-yard series that had the visitors in position to reclaim the lead. On 3rd and 4 from the Minnesota 11, Goff found rookie receiver Cooper Kupp in the middle of the field. Kupp secured the reception and turned to the goal line, which is where Vikings safety Anthony Harris met him, stripped the football away from him and recovered the fumble. Other than the scoring drive and the lost fumble drive, the Rams didn’t get past the Minnesota 49 until the final series of the game. Seven of the Rams 10 drives yielded one or zero 1st downs and the Rams averaged only 4.5 yards per play.

3. Rushing defense and rushing offense on point

As pass-happy as the NFL has become, every team still comes into every game wanting to establish the run and stop the run. The Vikings did just that on Sunday, and it paid dividends. Rams running back Todd Gurley has paced the NFL’s No. 6-ranked rushing offense all season and came into Sunday’s game with four 100-yard games. He did not add to that total. Gurley was shut down by the Vikings defense and ran for only 37 yards on 15 carries. The inability to run the ball rendered the Rams play action passing and misdirection tactics futile. Meanwhile, the Vikings offense was able to establish the run. Latavius Murray ran the ball 15 times for 95 yards, including touchdown runs of eight and two yards. Jerick McKinnon was productive, too, rushing for 48 yards on 14 carries and also adding five receptions.

4. Keenum keeps delivering

Keenum’s performance last week earned him FedEx Air Player of the Week honors. His numbers this week likely won’t merit the same accolades, but Keenum delivered once again on Sunday nonetheless. The former Los Angeles Ram was in complete command of the Vikings offense along the way to helping put up 24 points on one of the League’s No. 3 scoring defense. In so doing, Keenum was 27 of 38 for 280 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions, for a passer rating of 100.8; he added three rushes for 20 yards, as well. Keenum took no sacks and made sound decision after sound decision, often times choosing to throw the ball away instead of fitting it into tight coverage. At the same time, Keenum also gave his play makers chances to make plays, spreading the ball around to nine different receivers.

5. Thielen had another big day

Another game, another big game for Adam Thielen. His 65-yard catch-and-run touchdown early in the 4th quarter was the icing on the cake of another sensational performance and it was the nail in the coffin for another Vikings victory. Thielen finished the game with six catches on nine targets for 123 yards and the touchdown. He has at least five receptions in every game this season and he has the most games (six) with at least 90 yards receiving in the NFL.

6. Anthony Harris stepped up

Starting safety Andrew Sendejo was unable to play on Sunday, which opened up another opportunity for Harris to step into the defensive lineup. Harris took full advantage. He led the team with seven tackles and also had the key forced fumble and fumble recovery in the 2nd quarter that kept the Rams from reclaiming the lead and instead allowed the Vikings to flip field position. Harris also had a pass breakup later in the game.

7. Vikings won on 3rd down and in the red zone

Situational football belonged to the Vikings on Sunday. Keenum and Co. were seven of 14 (50%) on 3rd downs, with Kyle Rudolph and Jarius Wright, among others, both coming up clutch in moments. The Vikings were also perfect for a second consecutive game in the red zone, going two of two with a pair of Murray touchdowns. The Rams were not as successful in crucial situations, going three of 11 (27%) on 3rd downs and one for three (33%) in the red zone.

8. Vikings got explosive, the Rams did not

It was an explosive play that ignited the Rams last week in their come-from-behind win over Houston. The Vikings made sure that did not happen this week. Los Angeles was held to just two plays of 20+ yards, while the Vikings offense had six plays of 20+ yards on the day. 

9. U.S. Bank Stadium was rocking

The U.S. Bank Stadium crowd on Sunday was not messing around. They were amped up for the opening drive, but the Rams offense did a nice job of neutralizing the noise. But that was only for a moment. The crowd hadn’t been in the building for nearly a month and they won’t be back for another month, plus their team was 7-2 and leading its division while hosting another 7-2 division leader. On top of that, the home team gave the home crowd much about which to cheer. It all added up to a raucous environment and a decided advantage for the Vikings.

10. Short week ahead with big game on the horizon

As solid a win as it was, the victory over Los Angeles must be short-lived because the Vikings will turn around on Wednesday and fly to Detroit for a Thanksgiving Day game against the Detroit Lions. The Vikings lead remains two games atop the NFC North, but Thursday’s battle looms large because the Lions already have one win over the Vikings and the purple is looking to flip the script on the tie breaker over their division rival.