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Vikings Eventually Clear Goal-Line Hurdle in Comeback Win

JACKSONVILLE —It may not have been pretty, and the Vikings certainly didn't earn any style points, but Minnesota's offense delivered when it mattered most inside the red zone Sunday afternoon.

Minnesota scored two touchdowns on five trips inside the most important area of the field against the Jaguars in a game that featured just about everything once the Vikings crossed the 20-yard line.

"It was bad," said Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon. "If we make those opportunities count, then it's a different ball game. We've got to find a way to score.

"We're too close to get down there and stall out," he added.

Said Vikings running back Matt Asiata: "It was up and down … sometimes we shoot ourselves in the foot."

Minnesota cashed in on its final red zone try in a 25-16 win, as tight end Kyle Rudolph hauled in a 3-yard touchdown pass from Sam Bradford with just over two minutes left. 

"For us as an offense to finish the way we did and drive down and get a touchdown … it was big for us," Rudolph said. 

But the four journeys into the red zone before that included a field goal, turnover on downs, touchdown and a fumble.

The Vikings got three points on their first trip inside the 20-yard line, settling for a 32-yard field goal by Kai Forbath in the first quarter.

Minnesota then moved the ball down to the 1-yard line in the second quarter before Asiata was stuffed on back-to-back run plays.

He later scored from a yard out in the fourth quarter to give the Vikings an 18-16 lead, but there was more red-zone drama in the final quarter.

The Vikings faced first-and-goal from the 1-yard line midway through the fourth quarter when Asiata was stopped once again for no gain.

Bradford then completed a pass to tight end Rhett Ellison for no gain before Asiata fumbled as he tried to get over the goal line. Jacksonville recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchback.

"We did a good job of moving the ball, and I'd say the red zone (performance) was fine," said Vikings fullback Zach Line said. "It was that 6-inch line that we have to execute better.

"We have to move that line of scrimmage into their territory so Matt can get in there," he added. "We're trying to keep the same mentality the whole time … our pads lower than them. You just keep plugging away and plugging away."

Minnesota put up 377 yards on Sunday as it improved to 7-6 on the season.

But with three games remaining, Vikings players and coaches know a sharper performance in the red zone could make for an easier path on the push to the playoffs.

"We moved the ball and struggled obviously inside the 5-yard line," said Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer. "But that's a really good defense, and I'm proud of the offense." 

Added Rudolph: "We should have had about 40 points on that defense, and that's a top-five defense in this league."

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