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Trattou Celebrates Birthday by Making Key Plays

MINNEAPOLIS –Justin Trattou celebrated his 28th birthday with a pair of defensive splash plays.

Early in the third quarter, Chargers quarterback Kellen Clemens dropped back to throw, and Trattou blew past the left offensive tackle and around behind Clemens to get a hand on the passer's right arm. The packaged sack and forced fumble were the first of Trattou's birthday gifts. 

"It was fun," Trattou said of notching a big play in front of a home crowd. "When you go out there in the preseason and see a packed house like that, you have to really appreciate the fans and go out there and give it your all.

"We have the best fans in the game, and I really enjoy playing in front of them," he added.

Defensive end Stephen Weatherly recovered the fumble, and the ensuing Vikings offensive drive ended in another recovered fumble, this time for a score. When tight end MyCole Pruitt lost possession at the 3-yard line, the ball rolled into the end zone, and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson scooped up the pigskin for six points.

"It was definitely very unique," Trattou said of the chain of events. "But from my standpoint, we just go out there and execute techniques and try to make plays."

Trattou turned up again in the fourth quarter, this time sacking Chargers quarterback Mike Bercovici for a loss of 6. The Chargers were unable to recover from the loss of yards, and the drive ended with a San Diego punt.  

Entering his fifth season, Trattou has embraced a rotational role on the defensive line and makes his time on the field count. 

"Two years ago, [Justin was] on the practice squad, and then a year ago he didn't make the team," Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said. "Then he got an opportunity to play down the season, and now he has a nice day again today.

"Those kinds of guys are great success stories that just continue to believe in their goals and their dreams," Zimmer added.

During the 2015 season, the defensive end snagged two interceptions in just 22 snaps played. Through three preseason games this year, Trattou has nine tackles, 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble.

"He's been having a [heck] of a preseason," said defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. "He's been really homed in on his technique and playing well. That's all we can ask of him."

Trattou said he focuses on "sticking with the same technique I've been using every game" and gives all he has every snap.

"Playing hard, playing what I see and not trying to do anything too crazy," Trattou said. "And then the plays come to me."

Trattou's big day helped Minnesota net a 23-10 win over San Diego. It may be just the preseason, but he said it feels great for the team to get a third consecutive win under its belt.

"I think every game, you want to win, no matter what it was," Trattou said. "Winners want to win, and we're hopefully going to carry that over into the regular season."

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