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Regular-Season Recap: Vikings Post Historic 13-3 Record

Posted Jan 2, 2018

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Playoff season has arrived.

Although the Vikings earned a first-round bye with the No. 2 seed in the NFC, there is certainly a postseason feel around Winter Park.

Minnesota went 13-3 this season, posting the second-best record in franchise history. And there were plenty of stars along the way, as the Vikings produced several notable performances on offense, defense and special teams.

Here’s a look at a Vikings regular-season recap:

Passing: Case Keenum finished the season 11-3 as a starter and helped the Vikings win another game by entering just before halftime at Chicago. The Vikings quarterback finished his first season by throwing for 3,547 yards with 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Keenum also posted a quarterback rating of 98.3, which was the seventh-best in the NFL. He had eight games in which he had a rating of 100 or better.

Sam Bradford began the season as the starter and threw for 346 yards and three scores in a season-opening win against New Orleans. He suffered a knee injury and was placed on Injured Reserve midway through the season. Bradford returned to practice Tuesday.

Teddy Bridgewater completed a remarkable 14-month comeback from an injury that wiped out his entire 2016 season. Bridgewater made his season debut in a Week 15 win over the Bengals.

Rushing: A season after eclipsing 100-plus rushing yards just twice, the Vikings ground game did so 13 times in behind a triple-headed attack.

Minnesota finished the 2017 season ranked seventh with 122.3 yards per game. 

Rookie running back Dalvin Cook began the season as the starter but was lost in Week 4 when he suffered a torn ACL.

Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon promptly picked up the slack, combining for 1,412 rushing yards in 2017.

Murray led the way with 847 yards and a team-high eight rushing touchdowns, as he overcame a slow start to produce a pair of 100-yard games and consistent attack down the stretch. McKinnon scored a career-high three times on the ground and added 570 rushing yards.

Cook finished the season with 354 rushing yards and two scores on 74 attempts, averaging 4.8 yards per carry.

Keenum and fullback C.J. Ham each also scored a touchdown apiece on the ground.

Receiving: Adam Thielen produced the best season of his career, and one of the top seasons in Vikings history.

The first-time Pro Bowler hauled in 91 catches (seventh-most in team history) for 1,276 yards, a mark that ranks as the ninth-best for a single season by a Vikings wide receiver. The Minnesota native also had four touchdowns.

Stefon Diggs also had a solid season with 64 catches for 849 yards, including a 173-yard performance in Week 3 against Tampa Bay.

Diggs had eight touchdown catches, which was tied for the team lead with Kyle Rudolph, the Vikings tight end who had 57 catches for 532 yards. 

McKinnon was a threat out of the backfield with 421 receiving yards and two touchdowns, while Laquon Treadwell chipped in with 200 receiving yards and Jarius Wright had a pair of scores and 198 yards.

Tight end David Morgan had 10 receptions for 95 yards and a score.

Defense: The Vikings produced the best defense in the league — and one of the best in franchise history.

Minnesota ranked first in points allowed (15.8), the first time it had done so since 1970. The Vikings also allowed the fewest yards per game (275.9), the team’s best mark since 1993.

If that wasn’t enough, Minnesota also had the best third-down defense in NFL history (the stat started being tracked in 1991). The Vikings allowed just 51 conversions on 202 attempts (25.2 percent).

Everson Griffen notched a career-high 13 sacks with three forced fumbles, and Danielle Hunter added 7.0 sacks. Brian Robison had 4.0 of his own.

Linval Joseph anchored a defensive line that allowed the second-fewest rushing yards per game at 83.6, and he also added 3.5 sacks.

Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks formed one of the most formidable linebacker duos in the NFL.

Barr, a Pro Bowl selection had 98 total tackles (according to coaches’ tally) with a sack and nine tackles for loss. Kendricks had 136 total tackles (according to coaches’ tally) with 10 tackles for loss and a 31-yard interception return for a score against Cincinnati. It was the third time in as many seasons for Kendricks to lead the Vikings in tackles.

Harrison Smith nabbed five picks to tie a career high, and he had 93 total tackles (according to coaches’ tally) along with 10 tackles for loss. Andrew Sendejo had 98 total tackles (according to coaches’ tally) with two interceptions.

Xavier Rhodes routinely shut down opponent’s top wide receivers, and Trae Waynes showed great growth in his third season as he and Smith tied for the team lead with 14 passes defensed. Rhodes and Waynes had two picks.

Special Teams: Vikings kicker Kai Forbath made 32 of 38 field goal tries, including six makes from 50-plus yards. He was 34 of 39 on extra points.

Punter Ryan Quigley averaged 42.2 yards per punt and tied an NFL record by not having any touchbacks this season.

Marcus Sherels averaged 9.5 yards per punt return with a long of 46, and averaged 24.6 yards per kickoff return.

Looking Ahead

Minnesota earned a first-round bye by snagging the No. 2 seed in the NFC with a 13-3 record and also captured its second NFC North title in three seasons.

The Vikings will play either the Rams, Saints or Panthers in the Divisional round at 3:40 p.m. on Jan. 14 at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Minnesota defeated New Orleans and Los Angeles at home in 2017 and lost to Carolina on the road.