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Murray, O-Line Spark Run Game to Season-Best Performance

MINNEAPOLIS — The "Tay Train" was full-steam ahead Sunday against the Cardinals.

Latavius Murray, who goes by the moniker, sparked Minnesota's sluggish running game as he chugged ahead for 155 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries.

The Vikings running back set a career high in yards and surpassed the 150-yard mark for the first time in his career as he helped lead the Vikings to a 27-17 win at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Murray's big day was a needed jolt for the Vikings, who entered the game ranked 31st in the NFL with an average of just 65.8 yards per game on the ground so far in 2018.

The running back had 66 yards by himself at halftime as Minnesota constantly gained chunks of yards on the ground against an Arizona defense that entered the game ranked last in the NFL against the run.

"It was good just because we've been wanting to run the ball all season, and we knew that we were capable of doing that," Murray said. "It was just a matter of going out there and doing it.

"If we're being honest, they had been vulnerable to the run so far this season, so we wanted to take advantage of that," Murray added.

Murray's first-half was highlighted by a 21-yard touchdown run in which he burst up the middle before angling to the left, cruising into the end zone after stiff-arming Cardinals safety Antoine Bethea to the ground.

It was the first rushing touchdown of the season for the Vikings, who had a player surpass the 100-yard mark on the ground for the first time this season

Murray had ripped off a 26-yard run earlier on the drive, which was the first run over 20 yards for a Minnesota running back this season.

More big plays followed, as Murray finished with four 20-plus yard runs on the day. A few of them went to the right side behind right guard Mike Remmers and right tackle Brian O'Neill, who made his first career start.

"I guess it's just how it played out," Remmers said. "We wanted to attack them from all different angles, so I guess that's how it played out."

With Vikings running back Dalvin Cook inactive with a hamstring injury, Murray drew praise from his teammates and coaches with his workmanlike approach in Sunday's game.

"I'm pumped for him. He ran the heck out of the ball and was running hard," O'Neill said. "He was hitting the hole hard.

"Credit to the coaches; we had some great runs schemed up and it was just executing," O'Neill said. "I'm thankful Tay was running the way he was."

Added Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer: "I thought Latavius ran with a purpose."

Murray deflected credit to the big boys up front for helping him have his best game as a professional.

He was sitting on 127 yards before busting out a 28-yard run with just over a minute remaining to set a new personal best.

"I can't take all the credit," Murray said. "The offensive line, again, they did a great job – they got me to the second level on that one.

"I wanted to just make sure I stayed in bounds – get as much as I could and just stay in bounds so we could run the clock out," Murray added. "But when you're out there and just playing, you're not really thinking about the yards and how they really stack up."

All in all, the Vikings racked up a season-best 195 yards on the ground Sunday against Arizona. It was the most rushing yards in a game for Minnesota since a Week 16 home win in 2015 against the Giants at the University of Minnesota.

The Vikings will look for more success Sunday on the road against the Jets.

"I don't want to sit here and say that we cracked the code, because they had been vulnerable to the run game," Murray said. "So we have to be honest about that on all levels. But I will say, I feel we're capable of running the ball that way every week, no matter who we're playing, and we have to. And we need to.

"We have to figure out a way to do that, no matter who we're playing," Murray added. "I think it's just important that we had that kind of game and had this kind of outing and were able to get the run game going. I think going forward, we have to take the good we put out there today and build off of it."

Rookie Mike Boone gained 20 yards on his only rush attempt, and Kirk Cousins added 14 yards on four carries, including a 7-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Cousins said Murray was able to show what makes him a good running back.

"He runs downhill really well. He has good body lean. He has a nice spin move," Cousins said. "He just runs with a forward lean that helps us, and he does a great job of protection. He catches the ball well and is a smart player. He is very conscientious, and he'll come over to me and talk about details in the game plan to make sure he is doing his job down to the proper step every time. That is when you know a guy is a professional. I think he is a total package there and has done a great job for us."