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Jerick McKinnon Plays Big Role, Surpasses 100-Yard Mark in Overseas Win

London called, and Jerick McKinnon answered.

The Vikings running back's short touchdown helped Minnesota turn a corner after a scrappy first half and roll to a 33-16 win over the Browns at Twickenham Stadium.

Down by one point late in the third quarter, McKinnon snagged an 11-yard catch from Case Keenum on second-and-9 for a Vikings first down and rushed for six yards on the following play. A defensive pass interference call on the next down moved Minnesota to first-and-goal on Cleveland's 1.

McKinnon took the handoff in motion on a sweep, dodged traffic and made his way into the end zone.

"We just came out and knew we had to bounce back," McKinnon said. "The first half wasn't pretty, and on that drive we just kept pounding, pounding, pounding. We're trusting those guys up front, and I was able to come away with the score.

"We kept stressing it on the sideline. At the beginning of the game we kept getting field goals, and we need six points," McKinnon added. "Three is good, but it's not enough." 

After the score, McKinnon hopped into an imaginary sports car, put it into gear, and took off.

"They shipped my Lamborghini back from the states, so I was just riding around the field in it," McKinnon said with a smile of his celebration.

The Vikings opted to go for two rather than the extra point after an earlier PAT attempt by Kai Forbath was tipped. McKinnon's number was called again, and the conversion attempt was successful. McKinnon helped Minnesota gain a 23-16 lead over Cleveland, and the gap only widened from that point.

"We came out a little slow the first half, and it was a close game," McKinnon said. "We knew we had to come out and make a few plays, execute better, and I think we did that. You could feel it in the locker room, just the urge to make plays and try to get a lead. Just keep pushing."

McKinnon seemed to be all over the field Sunday, making plays on the ground and through the air. The running back recorded 50 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries in addition to snagging six catches for 72 yards. His combined yards from scrimmage (122) marked McKinnon's second game this season with 100-plus yards from scrimmage.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer emphasized the importance of McKinnon getting involved in the passing game.

"It was big," Zimmer said. "[The Browns defense plays] some things where it allows the check-downs to get some yards, and I thought we caught the ball well. And [Vikings Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur] talked to Case during the game, talked to him about some of these check-downs that were open instead of trying to force the ball down the field.

"I thought that was good, and then we had some good run-after-catches, as well," Zimmer added.

Latavius Murray also recorded 39 yards on 19 attempts and caught an 8-yard pass from Keenum.

The quarterback echoed Zimmer, saying McKinnon and Murray's contribution to the passing game was significant.

"They were great. The check-downs that we had, that's basically like a run game," Keenum said. "It's a short pass, and they're able to run. I think 'Jet' and Latavius did a great job out of the backfield.

Of the Vikings 26 first downs, five were accomplished by McKinnon. The 25-year-old had four catches of 10 yards or more, including grabs of 20 and 16 yards to move Minnesota into field-goal range in the last minute of the second quarter. The five-play drive started with just 34 seconds remaining in the half and was capped with a 34-yard kick by Forbath. 

McKinnon praised Keenum's ability to stay composed and get the ball out from under pressure on more than one occasion.

"He found me on a couple passes, and we were able to get some chunks out of that," McKinnon said. "Case has done a great job of extending plays and just [with] his whole role. The guy's for real. You can see it in how he plays, the energy, and it's helping us [get some] wins."

McKinnon's big day helped Minnesota move to 6-2 on the season before heading into the bye.  

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