Sacks weren’t the primary goal of the Vikings pass rush on Saturday night.
Sure, the Vikings wanted to pressure Brett Hundley, but it became more important to keep him in the pocket, Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said during a conference call on Sunday.
Hundley was the Packers second-leading rusher with 48 yards on five carries, consisting mainly of two long scrambles for 24 and 22 yards, and Zimmer said it was a focus to limit those plays as much as possible.
“Part of is because the quarterback started running a lot, so we sort of backed the pass rush down to keep him in the pocket,” Zimmer said.
He added that single-digit Fahrenheit temperatures and slick field conditions had some bearing on the pass rush but not a significant one.
“That had a little bit to do with it, but mostly with the quarterback running,” Zimmer said. “We had to change that during the game and say, ‘Keep him in the pocket and don’t worry about getting a sack.’ ”
Here are three other topics Zimmer covered during the call:
1. Offensive observations
The Vikings offense didn’t seem to hit full throttle at Lambeau Field, but the unit did enough to move the ball and put points on the board.
Minnesota recorded just 236 total yards on offense – 112 on the ground and 124 through the air. Case Keenum finished 14-of-25 passing for 139 yards but was sacked three times for a combined loss of 15. He threw one touchdown to Stefon Diggs at the end of the first quarter.
“I think the field conditions had a little bit to do with it – we missed a few throws and third downs that we had opportunities to hit,” Zimmer said. “We started out good and then kind of fizzled out a little bit there. But we’ll get back going again.”
2. Denying fourth-down conversions
The Packers were eliminated from the postseason prior to Saturday’s rival matchup, so Zimmer had a feeling they would take risks at certain points throughout the evening.
“We did anticipate them going on fourth down quite a bit in the game – that’s what happens when teams have nothing to lose,” Zimmer said.
Green Bay went for it on fourth down four times – with 7, 3, 10 and 1 yard to go, respectively – and was stopped each time by Minnesota’s defense, which achieved a shutout for the first time since 1993.
“Pretty much we just played good coverage on all of them,” Zimmer said. “They were all big parts of the game.
“The one with Xavier (on fourth-and-10), he made a good play on it. I was kind of surprised he went back to the side over there to him,” Zimmer added. “They’re all important. For us, fourth downs are a lot like third downs, the same magnitude. You either make them punt or you get the ball back, so that was all good.”
3. Slated for Sunday
It’s not often that the Vikings aren’t suiting up for a game on Sunday.
But while they now have their 15th game – and 12th win – behind them, Zimmer and the Vikings aren’t taking too much of a break.
Zimmer told media members he had already reviewed the Packers game and spoken with coaching staff, and he plans to turn his attention toward Minnesota’s final regular-season game of the year.
“Well, we went through the tape from last night, I met with the coaches, players came and worked out – lifted and ran,” Zimmer said of his Sunday agenda. “And now we’re working on Chicago.”
The Vikings locked up a playoff berth when they clinched the NFC North division against the Bengals on Dec. 17, but they will look to finish the regular season with a win next week in order to lock up at least the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye.