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Vikings Defense Making Offenses Pay for Deep Shots

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Texans on Sunday became the latest team to struggle against the Vikings defense on deep pass attempts.

Houston went 0-for-3 and suffered an interception when Brock Osweiler attempted a pass of 21 or more yards. The Texans did garner a 34-yard pass interference call, but the penalty erases the existence of that pass attempt.

Through five games, Minnesota has the stingiest passer rating (18.9) for opposing quarterbacks who attempt a pass of 21 or more yards.

Vikings opponents are a combined 5-of-19 passing (26.3 percent) for 143 yards with zero touchdowns and three interceptions.

Andrew Sendejo, who made an impressive diving interception of Osweiler on the Norseman, said the Vikings success so far is a combination of game planning, knowing opponents' personnel and preferences and trying to take away what they like to do.

"Obviously, your goal as a defense is to keep the top on the defense and keep things in front of you," Sendejo said. "We've been doing a good job of executing the game plan and keeping receivers in front of us, not letting them get behind us. We'll try to continue to do that and not give up big plays."

Houston entered the game 5-of-18 for 183 yards with two touchdowns and an interception on passes 21 yards and up through its first four games.

"They were a big shot team. They had some shots that they did take," Sendejo said. "They didn't get as many as they probably wanted, but we knew going in that they were going to try to throw the ball down the field."

Xavier Rhodes has been part of an effort by the secondary that neutralized Kelvin Benjamin in Week 3, Odell Beckham, Jr./Victor Cruz/Sterling Shepard in Week 4 and DeAndre Hopkins/Will Fuller on Sunday.

He said the keys have been "just playing on top, being in tight coverage, playing good technique and counting on the guys up front."

"The guys up front are putting a lot of pressure on the quarterback, you see them getting a lot of sacks, so that's helping us out a lot," Rhodes said.

The Vikings recorded four more sacks on Sunday, boosting their league-leading total to 19, and the Texans sent multiple receivers more than 21 yards beyond the line of scrimmage on two of those four plays. The top three targets on another play were 16, 16 and 14 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.

Rhodes said it's been interesting to see offenses change their approach as the Vikings put more pressure on quarterbacks.

"You can tell because their whole route concept was changing toward the middle or end of the game," Rhodes said. "They're going to quicker routes, trying to get the ball out of the quarterback's hands because our defensive line is getting pressure on him once they try to go deep."

Selectively aggressive offense

The Vikings offense has been successful at throwing the ball 21 or more yards this season. Minnesota's Sam Bradford was 2-of-3 passing for 66 yards and a touchdown on Sunday for a rating of 149.3.

This season, the Vikings are 7-of-15 for 239 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a rating of 132.6, which is third in the league behind the Falcons and the Raiders.

Long's first practice

The Vikings announced the signing of Jake Long on Tuesday. The veteran offensive lineman arrived at Winter Park in time to have his first practice in purple.

Long was drafted at the No. 1 overall spot by Miami in 2008 when Vikings offensive line coach Tony Sparano was head coach of the Dolphins. He has 100 games of experience, including 96 starts (74 with Miami and 22 with St. Louis). Long said he repped "a little" at left tackle and right tackle.

"I think for the most part I did left but that was just knocking the rust off. I then took a few snaps at right," Long said.

Previously a teammate of Joe Berger in Miami, and Sam Bradford and Shaun Hill in St. Louis, Long said he appreciated help from all of his new teammates on Tuesday.

"They have a great group in there. Just today, they were communicating with me. I knew most of the plays, but (on) some of the things, they were telling me where to go. Just the communication they have and they tight-knit group they have in there, they welcomed me right away and we're helping me out with the things I needed. There shouldn't be a problem with that."

Another addition

Last week, Kyle Rudolph and his wife celebrated the births of their twin daughters, shortly after Rudolph led the Vikings in receiving yards (with 55 and a touchdown) against the Giants.

This week, Adam Thielen and his wife welcomed a son early Tuesday morning after Thielen delivered career highs of seven catches and 127 yards that included a 36-yard touchdown against the Texans.

Asher John Thielen! We love you so much and I'm so proud of your momma @mrst19 , Asher and I… — Adam Thielen (@athielen19) October 11, 2016

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