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Game Preview: Vikings at Rams

EAGAN, Minn. — The Minnesota Vikings (1-1-1) will travel to Los Angeles for a game for the first time in more than a quarter century this week and face the Rams (3-0) at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:20 p.m. (CT) for the game that will be nationally televised by FOX.

The Vikings haven't played in Los Angeles since Sept. 5, 1993, when they lost 24-7 to the Raiders at the Coliseum. The Vikings have not faced the Rams in Los Angeles since Nov. 29, 1992, a 31-17 Minnesota win at Anaheim Stadium.

The Vikings have a 27-16-2 mark all-time against the Rams franchise and have a five-game win streak in the series.

The Rams are coming off a 35-23 home win over in-town foe, the Los Angeles Chargers, while the Vikings suffered their first loss of the season after dropping a home game against the Buffalo Bills.

The Vikings and Rams enter Week 4 tied for fifth in the NFL in passing yards per game with 305.7 per game.

Vikings QB Kirk Cousins has thrown for 965 yards, the second-highest total in the NFL and 24 more than Rams QB Jared Goff, who ranks third in the league with 941 passing yards.

Cousins threw for 425 yards, the fourth-highest total of his career, and tied a career high with four touchdown passes at Green Bay (Sept. 16), his first career start at Lambeau Field in Week 2. Cousins led his ninth career fourth quarter/overtime comeback for a win or tie by throwing for 219 yards, three touchdowns and an interception on 14-of-20 passing (70.0 percent) and totaling a 124.8 passer rating in the fourth quarter and overtime in Week 2.

The Vikings defense, which ranks 10th in yards allowed (323.0 per game) in 2018, is tied for third in the NFL in sacks with 10.

Safety Harrison Smith is joined by Bears defensive end Khalil Mack and Chargers safety Derwin James as the only players in the NFL to have multiple sacks and an interception in 2018.

NATIONAL TV BROADCAST

FOX (KMSP in Minneapolis/St. Paul)

Play-by-Play: Joe Buck

Analyst: Troy Aikman

Sideline Reporters: Erin Andrews and Kristina Pink

NATIONAL RADIO

WESTWOOD ONE

Play-by-play: Kenny Albert

Analyst: Tony Boselli

LOCAL RADIO

KFAN 100.3-FM/KTLK-AM 1130

Play-by-play: Paul Allen

Analyst: Pete Bercich

Sideline Reporters: Greg Coleman and Ben Leber

Radio Pre-game Show: Mike Mussman | 5 p.m. (CT) 

KFAN and KTLK serve as the flagship stations for the 63-station, five-state Vikings Radio Network.

SATELLITE RADIO

Sirius: 226, Streaming 819 (MIN); 225, Streaming 817 (LAR)

XM: 81, Streaming 819 (MIN); 83, Streaming 817 (LAR)

NORSE NOTES

WR Adam Thielen's 32 receptions rank third all-time in NFL history for the most receptions through the opening three games of a season behind Saints WR Michael Thomas (38 in 2018) and Falcons WR Julio Jones (34 in 2015).

Thielen, Buccaneers WR DeSean Jackson and Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster are the only players in the NFL to have 100+ receiving yards in every game in 2018. Both Jackson and Smith-Schuster play on MNF in Week 3.

In Week 3 vs. Buffalo, TE Kyle Rudolph caught his 17th touchdown pass dating back to the start of the 2016 season, the most in the NFL among all TEs.

Since the start of the 2016 season, safety Harrison Smith has six interceptions and 3.5 sacks, the only player in the NFL to have more than two interceptions and at least 3.0 sacks in that span.

In September games since the start of 2017, QB Kirk Cousins has thrown for 1,749 yards, 12 touchdowns and three interceptions, totaling a 101.5 passer rating. He has posted a 3-2-1 record in those games.

Vikings DE Danielle Hunter has recorded 1.0 sack in all three games to start the season, tying his career high for consecutive games with a sack.

Cousins' 965 passing yards sets a new Vikings team record for most passing yards through three games to start a season, which was previously held by Daunte Culpepper in 2004 with 945 yards.

STAT OF THE WEEK

Vikings WR Adam Thielen is second in the NFL in receiving yards with 338 yards, which also ranks second in Minnesota history for the most receiving yards through the first three games of a season.

Top 5 Receiving Yardage Totals Through Season's First Three Games

1) Gene Washington, 397 in 1969

2) Adam Thielen, 338 in 2018

3) Stefon Diggs, 325 in 2016

4) Adam Thielen, 299 in 2017  

5) Cris Carter, 297 in 1997

VIKINGS-RAMS CONNECTIONS

Rams C John Sullivan played for Minnesota from 2008-2015 and appeared in 109 games with 93 starts as a Viking. Sullivan was selected by the Vikings in the 6th round (187th overall) in the 2008 NFL Draft. Sullivan was named the Vikings Community Man of the Year in 2013.

Vikings QB Kirk Cousins, G Tom Compton and WR Aldrick Robinson all played for Rams Head Coach Sean McVay in Washington while he served as the Redskins tight ends coach from 2011-13 and offensive coordinator from 2014-16.

Rams physical therapist/assistant athletic trainer Byron Cunningham was a seasonal athletic trainer for the Minnesota Vikings during the 2009 season.

Vikings defensive backs coach Jerry Gray was a standout DB for the Los Angeles Rams. Gray was the 21st overall pick in 1985 out of Texas by the L.A. Rams and went on to earn four Pro Bowl berths (1986-89) and was Second-Team All-Pro twice (1986, '89). In 1989, Gray was named the MVP of the Pro Bowl.

LOCAL CONNECTIONS

The Vikings have four players who attended college in Los Angeles — Anthony Barr (UCLA), Eric Kendricks (UCLA), Kevin McDermott (UCLA) and Everson Griffen (Southern Cal). Barr (San Pedro), Kendricks (Fresno) and Vikings P Matt Wile (San Diego) all are California natives.

Vikings Assistant General Manager George Paton is a native of Southern California and was a four-year letter winner as a DB at UCLA from 1988-91.

Vikings running backs Coach Kennedy Polamalu, who attended from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California, is a graduate of USC where he played fullback, and went on to coach at both USC and UCLA in various stints for a combined 12 years.

COLLEGE CONNECTIONS

Rams DB Lamarcus Joyner played at Florida State with Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes from 2010-12. Vikings RB Dalvin Cook also went to Florida State but did not play with either Rhodes or Joyner.

Rams C Austin Blythe (2012-15) and Vikings DT Jaleel Johnson (2012-16) were teammates at Iowa.

Rams C John Sullivan (2004-07) joins Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph (2008-10) and safety Harrison Smith (2007-11) as former Notre Dame Fighting Irish in Thursday's contest.

Vikings G Mike Remmers (2007-11) and Rams WR Brandin Cooks (2011-13), P Johnny Hekker (2008-11) and QB Sean Mannion (2007-11) were all teammates at Oregon State.

VIKINGS TOP PERFORMERS VS. RAMS

Offense

Kirk Cousins: 2 games, 41-of-54 passing, 382 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT, 107.2 rating, 2-0 record

Latavius Murray: 1 game, 15 carries, 95 yards, 2 TDs

Adam Thielen: 3 games, 6 receptions, 123 yards, 65-yard TD

Defense

Everson Griffen: 4 games, 9 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 4 TFL, 1 INT returned 29 yards for a TD

Linval Joseph: 3 games, 18 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 4 TFL, 3 QB hits

Harrison Smith: 4 games, 13 tackles, 1.0 sack, 1 INT returned 81 yards for a TD

VIKINGS BIG DAYS VS. RAMS

Safety Harrison Smith scored his third career touchdown by returning an interception 81 yards in the 2014 season opener. The Vikings won 34-6 at St. Louis (Sept. 7, 2014).

Defensive end Tashawn Bower secured his first career sack vs. Los Angeles (Nov. 19, 2017) last season.

Defensive end Everson Griffen scored his first NFL touchdown at St. Louis (Nov. 16, 2012) with a 29-yard interception return. Griffen also recorded 2.0 sacks in the 2014 matchup at St. Louis (Sept. 7, 2014).

DT Linval Joseph won NFC Defensive Player of the Week after recording 10 tackles, 0.5 sack, 3 TFL, and 2 QB hits vs. St. Louis (Nov. 8, 2015). Joseph's 10 tackles tied the highest by a DT in a single game in the NFL that season.

WR Adam Thielen caught six passes for 123 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown vs. Los Angeles (Nov. 19, 2017) last season.

VIKINGS-RAMS SERIES NOTES

The Vikings and Rams have played 45 times overall with Minnesota holding a 27-16-2 series record.

The Vikings and Rams have played four overtime games in series history, with the teams splitting 2-1-1 in those contests.

In a matchup at Los Angeles on Nov. 19, 1972, the Vikings and Rams combined for 86 points, the third-most combined points in a single game in Vikings history. In that contest, the Vikings scored 35 points in the second half, tied for the second-highest output in a single half in franchise history.

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