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Rhodes Limits Falcons Top Threat in Vikings Victory

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones was held to 56 yards receiving in the Vikings 20-10 victory on Sunday.

This was the wideout's second-lowest total of the season, and his fewest since Week 4 against the Houston Texans.

Third-year CB Xavier Rhodes had the task of guarding one of the league's top receivers for most of the game, and he did as good of a job as any defensive back who has been given this opportunity.

Rhodes was key to limiting Jones, writes Mark Craig of the Star Tribune.

The Vikings' 6-1, 218-pound cornerback shadowed and shut down Atlanta's 6-3, 220-pound receiver, rendering Jones a nonfactor in the Falcons fourth straight loss on Sunday at the Georgia Dome. While Peterson, the league's leading rusher, ran for 158 yards, Jones, the league's leading receiver, caught just five passes for 56 yards, his second-lowest output on the season.

With Rhodes in man coverage, Jones was targeted only three times and caught only two passes for 18 yards, all in the first half. Rhodes' tight coverage on those three targets resulted in a pass defense and only 3 yards after one of the catches.

"This isn't a surprise," said Terence Newman, the Vikings' other starting cornerback. "He did it with [Lions receiver] Calvin Johnson twice. Jones is a matchup nightmare, but physically, there is nobody who is built better for that job than Xavier. And he looks forward to it, too."

The Falcons didn't attempt a pass to Jones for the first 18 minutes. Jones came into the game with 89 catches for 1,189 yards, but the Falcons, who were missing leading-rusher Devonta Freeman (concussion), started the game with three runs and a punt.

*Minnesota's estimable defense still needs to pass the test of an offense that forces it into a shootout. That certainly wasn't the Falcons, but as the Vikings enter their stretch run against the likes of the Cardinals, Bears, Seahawks and Packers, we'll see how often and how well they're able to play it close. *

McKinnon and Munnerlyn thrill hometown fans

When the Vikings hit the road to take on the Atlanta Falcons, not many fans realized that RB Jerick McKinnon and CB Captain Munnerlyn were heading home for the weekend.

McKinnon as well as Munnerlyn thrilled their fans on Sunday, writes Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press.

*The Atlanta native carried five times for 33 yards in a 20-10 victory over the Falcons at the Georgia Dome. It was the second-best showing of the season for McKinnon, who hasn't played much backing up Adrian Peterson and Matt Asiata. *

*McKinnon, who played at Sprayberry High School in suburban Marietta and at Georgia Southern, estimated he had 60 to 70 family members and friends on hand. He bought more than 20 tickets himself, while many others bought tickets when the schedule was released before the season. *

*"It felt good," McKinnon said. "I just tried to maximize my opportunities, and I think I finished my runs off really hard. It was fun seeing a lot of people that I know." *

*Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn also had a cheering section. The native of Mobile, Ala., said he came up with about 70 tickets for family members and friends. *

Munnerlyn thrilled them with an interception, although he lost two yards on the return. After returning five of his seven interceptions for touchdowns while with Carolina from 2009-13, Munnerlyn hasn't scored off any of his three Minnesota picks.

Vikings back atop NFC North

**

**When the Vikings lost to the Green Bay Packers it was the team's first lost since Oct. 4.

The Vikings bounced back atop the division with the victory against the Falcons, the Associated Press writes.

*The Minnesota Vikings made sure one loss didn't lead to another. *

*Now, just like that, they're back on top in the NFC Central. *

*Adrian Peterson rushed for 158 yards and two touchdowns, while the Minnesota defense picked off Matt Ryan two times and kept the Atlanta Falcons out of the end zone until garbage time in a 20-10 victory Sunday. *

*One week after a discouraging loss to division rival Green Bay, the Vikings (8-3) reclaimed sole possession of first place. They're one game ahead of the Packers, who lost to Chicago on Thanksgiving night. *

''This team is nowhere near where we need to be,'' Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer said, ''but this team has a lot of fighters on it.''

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