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Jerick McKinnon's Versatility, Improv Skills Help Vikings Win

Only one thing really occupied Jerick McKinnon's mind at Jacksonville Sunday.

"I'm just trying to win," the running back said.

While McKinnon gained only 31 yards rushing on 14 touches, he added six catches for 38 receiving yards that proved vital in the Vikings 25-16 defeat of the Jaguars to move to 7-6.

"Like [Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer] has been saying, like we've all been saying, we need touchdowns," McKinnon said. "We have to get [first downs], and I'm just trying to help the team get a touchdown."

McKinnon didn't find the end zone himself, but he played a big role in Minnesota's first touchdown drive of the game, a 10-play drive that ended in a one-yard score by running back Matt Asiata early in the fourth quarter.

On second-and-5, Bradford handed off to McKinnon, who found a hole and gained the first down with a 7-yard run. Bradford utilized McKinnon as a receiver the following down. After first faking a handoff to the back, Bradford then stepped back and connected with McKinnon for a 12-yard completion over the middle to move the chains again.

After a crucial 23-yard reception by wide receiver Adam Thielen, McKinnon caught another pass, this time for 7 yards, on first-and-10. An ensuing incomplete pass brought up a third-and-3 situation, and McKinnon once again came up big with a 5-yard reception to keep the drive alive.

"I like any situation where I can get it in space," McKinnon said. "It was just all about making plays, and that's what it all came down to. Everybody on offense makes plays in different situations when their name is called.

"[Stefon Diggs] made a big catch, Cordarrelle [Patterson] made a big catch-and-run, so it's all about playing collectively and trying to score touchdowns," he added.

McKinnon's largest play of the day occurred in the second quarter. Bradford recovered a fumble forced by Yannick Ngakoue and found McKinnon behind the line of scrimmage, but the running back weaved his way to the Vikings 40-yard line.

"That was a good play," McKinnon said. "Sam did a good job at finding me – I was just sitting there, he found me, checked the down, and I was able to make a move. That's a heads-up play by Sam, having awareness and picking it up and making something happen."

Conversely, Bradford handed all credit to McKinnon for executing the catch after a disrupted start to the play.

"For him just to stay with it and continue to move and find space out there, and then create when the ball was in his hands," Bradford said. "It was just very aware on his part.

"In the second half, [Jerick] and our offensive line did a great job," Bradford continued. "We leaned on all those guys pretty heavily, and for them to come out be able to do what they did and create some positive plays in the run game, I think it was great."

The Vikings finished the game with 85 yards rushing. McKinnon said there were positive and negative takeaways from the game, and the run game will continue to be a focus of improvement this week as it has been all season. 

"The type of push that we're making, if we're going to win games, we need to be productive in that area," McKinnon said. "We're going to watch the film and get better. I'm going to critique myself, everybody else is going to critique themselves, and we're going to get better for next week."

McKinnon said Sunday was a team effort that paid off with a win, but there's not much time to relax before hosting the Colts at U.S. Bank Stadium a week from today. 

"We know what's at stake with these final games," McKinnon said. "We're going to enjoy it on our way back, but tomorrow it's on to our next opponent. We have to get that done, as well."

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