EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Jarius Wright said Monday that he "kind of cuddled and caressed" the game ball when he got home Sunday after catching a pass and running nearly the length of the field for a game-winning 87-yard touchdown.
In addition to posting the decisive score in Minnesota's 30-24 overtime victory against the New York Jets, the Vikings third-year pro had the longest carry of the day by any player: a 23-yard scamper on a reverse that set up a 20-yard field goal by Blair Walsh.
Wright got the ball after Matt Asiata took the initial handoff from Teddy Bridgewater. Asiata moved toward the Vikings sideline a couple steps behind Vladimir Ducasse, who was filling in for injured left guard Charlie Johnson and pulling on the play. Wright took the ball and zipped toward the Jets sideline, picking up a block from Bridgewater on Jason Babin to allow Wright to turn up field and increase the gain.
"Teddy gave me a nice block on the reverse," Wright said.
The Vikings also added a 6-yard gain on a jet sweep with Cordarrelle Patterson on a day in which they rushed for 114 yards against a team that entered the game allowing 85.2 per game on the ground.
"We have a couple of guys that can do it," Wright said. "We don't have to do it with one guy. We have me and Cordarrelle Patterson that can do the reverse and be screen guys, so as long as you can mix it up and give them a new look every time."
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said the reverse to Wright was trying to capitalize on the way the Jets pursue the football.
"As far as us running the reverses, I think when you find these teams that are flowing real hard and really, two of the reverses Teddy (Bridgewater) has made really good blocks on that have allowed the guys to get there," Zimmer said. "And then also, we've done a good job of sealing the side and then (center John) Sullivan's gotten downfield pretty good on both of them."
Sullivan was 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage when he delivered a block on the reverse that allowed Wright more running room, and Sullivan had one of the blocks that sprung Wright free on the final play.
While the Vikings have found success with reverses and jet sweeps on offense, the defense has limited gains when opponents have tried to use misdirection and fakes this season, particularly the last two weeks with mobile quarterbacks (New York's Geno Smith and Carolina's Cam Newton).
The Jets showed fake handoffs early in the first quarter, including one by running back Bilal Powell, who took the snap out of the wildcat formation with Smith lined up at wide receiver.
They attempted to build off that deception when facing third-and-2 from the Minnesota 17. Smith faked a handoff to Powell, then tossed the ball behind him toward his right to former Viking Percy Harvin. Safety Harrison Smith read the play correctly and moved toward the right to maintain containment and force the dynamic back to the inside. The third-year pro got a piece of Harvin before Corey Wootton, Chad Greenway, Robert Blanton and Josh Robinson converged for a 1-yard loss that forced a field goal by Nick Folk.
The solid execution nixed a play the Jets thought would be successful or they wouldn't have called it on third-and-2 on their first trip inside the Minnesota 20-yard line. The effective stop helped the Vikings avoid allowing a touchdown on any of the five trips by the Jets into the red zone.
"As far as stopping the reverse, it's really just being in the right place and guys understanding what they're supposed to do," Zimmer said.