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Makeshift Offensive Line Powers Through in Vikings Victory

LONDON — It was a gritty, grind-it-out type of game, perhaps the kind an offensive lineman prefers. 

That was the case for the Vikings offense in Sunday's 33-16 win against Cleveland at Twickenham Stadium in London.

Minnesota racked up 375 yards of offense, but did so on a whopping 78 offensive plays, 19 more than the Browns ran.

Vikings left tackle Riley Reiff said his unit was prepared for an ugly victory, which is exactly what happened in Week 8.

"We knew it going in," Reiff said. "Cleveland has a really good defense, and we just stuck to it.

"Hats off to the OC (Vikings Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur)," Reiff added. "He called a great game, and he stuck with it, and we appreciate that."

The Vikings moved to 6-2 behind an offense that was without left guard Nick Easton with a calf injury.

Rookie Danny Isidora, a fifth-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft out of the University of Miami, got the start because backup left guard Jeremiah Sirles was out because of a knee injury.

"It was a big milestone," Isidora said of his first start. "I'm glad we got the win; that's all we're focused on right now.

"I was excited and ready to just get out there and get a couple plays under my belt," Isidora added. "Guys told me to stay focused and relax, and that it was just a game." 

The shuffling on the line continued early as right tackle Mike Remmers left with a concussion in the first quarter. He was replaced by Rashod Hill, who can play either tackle position.

"This means a lot, going into the bye week at 6-2," Hill said. "I'm just glad I came in and helped get this win.

"I could have done better, I had a lot of mistakes out there," Hill added. "But we got the win, so that's all that matters. I'll get better."

Reiff said he was impressed yet unsurprised that Isidora and Hill came in and didn't skip a beat. He credited Vikings offensive line coach Tony Sparano for having every member of the position room ready to play.

"Tony does a great job, Tony's a great coach, and anybody that we put out there, next man up, we expect them to play at a high level," Reiff said. "And they did, they stepped up, Rashod and Danny.

"It was awesome out there today," Reiff added. "Happy to see them do well."

Vikings quarterback Case Keenum was sacked once for a loss of just a yard, and threw for 288 yards and two scores in the win. 

"The offensive line is playing really, really well," Keenum said. "We had a patchwork line today with Mike getting hit and going down there, I think it was in the first half.

"They're playing really, really well, and when they play well, I think our team plays well," Keenum added.

The Vikings also ran for 88 yards on the ground, providing just enough balance behind an offensive line that was undermanned but did its job. 

Minnesota will now have a bye before heading to Washington for a Week 9 road game. 

"Let guys heal up a little bit, and just clean up stuff," Reiff said. "I know Coach said we need to clean some stuff up, and we're going to go over areas we haven't been very good at – might be a small area, might be a big area – but we're going to get back to work for a few days, then take some time off and recover." 

The Vikings will have some time off soon, but the performance of the makeshift offensive line in London left plenty of people happy on the eight-hour flight home, including Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer. 

"It's great to see they have depth on the offensive line — guys going down and they keep fighting," Zimmer said. "Tony Sparano has been doing a great job with them, but (Joe) Berger, some of the veteran offensive linemen we have … Reiff, they're going a good job (because) we have a lot of young guys. 

"I thought the offensive line … they continue to be a strength for us," Zimmer added. 

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