News | Minnesota Vikings –

After Further Review: Plodders Can Make Explosive Plays Too

After Further Review is a deeper look at plays or stats after Vikings games...

Eleven different Vikings caught passes Thursday against the Cardinals. Minnesota notched a season-high seven plays of 20 or more yards in one game.

Three of the longest gains were turned in on catches by players normally viewed as plodders: running back Matt Asiata, tight end Rhett Ellison and fullback Zach Line.

The Vikings used Arizona's aggressiveness against the Cardinals and yielded substantial gains.

Q1, 13:42 left, Third-and-2, Arizona 28: After a pair of rushes by Adrian Peterson, the Vikings send in Matt Asiata at running back.


They line him up next to quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who is in the shotgun, and motion Ellison in from the outside to Bridgewater's left. Arizona has six men along the line of scrimmage at the snap, and those in the box go forward, along with Kevin Minter, a linebacker blitzing up the middle.

Ellison picks up the blitz to keep Bridgewater clean, and the second-year QB quickly fires to Asiata at the line of scrimmage. Asiata catches the ball in stride had has plenty of running room until he's tripped up by safety Rashad Johnson at midfield.

The result: The 22-yard gain converted third down and was followed by Adrian Peterson's 9-yard TD four plays later.

Q2, 11:47 left, Second-and-7, Minnesota 24: Peterson is the lone running back, and the Vikings have two tight ends in the game. Bridgewater fakes the handoff to Peterson, and the Cardinals front seven surges across the line of scrimmage.


Ellison waits patiently at the 23-yard line away from most of the pressure the Cardinals are applying and quickly turns up field as Joe Berger and Mike Harris release to block down the field. Ellison's mobility with the ball is underrated and allows him to turn a pass caught behind the line of scrimmage into the longest gain of the night.

He deftly cut through tackle attempts by Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson for extra yardage, but that slows him down slightly and allows Deone Bucannon to catch Ellison from behind. Bucannon was at the 18 when Ellison caught the ball, but hustled after the tight end.

The result: The Vikings gain 41 and keep moving the ball, but the drive ends on the first of three Vikings fumbles.

Q4, 6:11 left, First-and-20, Arizona 34: Out of an offset two-back formation, the Vikings again fake the handoff to Peterson and draw eight Cardinals to the line of scrimmage or across it. Bridgewater scans and fires before feeling flames from the defense to Line at the 32. Line shows solid hands in collecting a pass that's a little high, absorbs hits from Mathieu and Bucannon with a spin at the 30 and picks up a block from Adam Thielen.


Line turns a play intended to get some penalty yardage back into a gain of 24 until Mathieu hustles and chases him down from behind.

The result: The Vikings score the game-tying touchdown three plays later on a pass from Bridgewater to Mike Wallace with 4:55 remaining.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.