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Vikings-Redskins Notebook: Offensive Line Suffers Another Hit

The Vikings offensive line took another significant hit on Sunday.

Left tackle Jake Long, who was signed during the bye week, suffered an Achilles injury on the next-to-last play of a 26-20 loss to the Redskins.

Long had moved into the starting spot at Chicago on Oct. 31, but Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said it is likely that Long is done for the season.

Kyle Rudolph said the injury to Long, who was a teammate of the quarterback when they were both with the Rams, only worsened a disappointing finish to the day.

"We were in St. Louis together and we both went through some injuries there, I know how difficult it is," Bradford said. "He was excited just to be back playing and starting, and for him to get injured today, it's really tough."

Long, who appeared to keep getting better every week, is the third tackle to suffer a significant injury this season. Riley Reiff and Andre Smith are already on injured reserve.

The Vikings (5-4) opted to keep Anthony Harris at right tackle and brought in Jeremiah Sirles at left tackle on what became Minnesota's final play. Preston Smith was able to beat Sirles and sack Bradford for a loss of 14 on fourth-and-17.

It was the second sack allowed by the Vikings in a three-play span. They also had a holding call on Clemmings that was declined on third-and-17.

Clemmings initially replaced Kalil at left tackle after Week 2, and Sirles replaced Smith at right tackle against Houston. Sirles started at right tackle at Philadelphia before the Vikings moved Clemmings there at Chicago.

They'll be forced to adjust the offensive line yet again when they host the Arizona Cardinals (4-4-1). Minnesota already has used five different combinations of offensive linemen in nine games this season after starting the same five players in every game in 2015.

Pat Elflein and Sirles said they are not expecting a sympathy card from the Cardinals or anyone else. 

"We're not going to dare make an excuse for it," Boone said. "We're going to figure it out and come back strong."

Added Sirles: "No one is going to feel sorry for us. The ball is going to roll out next Sunday, and we're going to have five guys go compete."

The Longest Yard

The Vikings troubles in short-yardage rush situations continued on Sunday.

Minnesota faced third-and-1 on its third snap of the third quarter. A run by Nick Easton went for no gain after consecutive rushes for 4 and 5 yards, and the Vikings were forced to punt with 5:54 remaining. Minnesota didn't get the ball back until 38 seconds remained in the quarter and totaled 18 yards on four plays in the 3:37 that it had the ball.

"It's unbelievably frustrating," Boone said. "Sometimes it's us shooting ourselves in the foot. Sometimes it's being … stupid. That's the bottom line. You can't have that.

"A close game against a good team, third-and-1 makes that game," Boone added.

The Vikings tried a run with Asiata again on third-and-1 on their first possession of the fourth quarter, and the play lost a yard, forcing another punt with the game tied at 20 and 12:54 left on the clock.

"Third-and-1s are huge. We have to convert those, and that's how we keep drives going and score points," Kyle Rudolph said. "It's 1 yard. We just have to do better. We went with big people, we went with small people, and we didn't get either one. That's where our toughness needs to take over, and we need to go out and get that."

The Vikings totaled 47 net rushing yards on 21 carries. That total includes an 11-yard gain by receiver Adam Thielen against a defense that entered the game 26th in the NFL, allowing 123.8 yards per game.

"Just been a tough year," said Jerick McKinnon, who rushed six times for 16 yards, despite having a long run of 13 yards on a direct snap from the Wildcat formation. "We just need that one game to get us going, and we haven't found it yet."

Bradford emphasized the value of balance for the offense and said the Vikings can't lose faith in being able to convert.

"I think you've just got to work through it. Obviously we felt like those plays, schematically, we would be able to get third-and-1," Bradford said. "We've got confidence in those guys up front and confidence in our backs. We're going to keep calling in on third-and-1 and they're going to be first downs. We've just got to trust in it and go out there and execute it when those plays are called."

The Vikings had eight run plays that went for negative yards or no gain, netting (minus-13) on those carries.

"It's disappointing because we got back to the negative yardage plays today, and when that happens, obviously the running game goes nowhere," Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said. "The bottom line is we're trying to win however we can. Sure, we'd like to run the ball better but if we have to throw it every down, we have to throw it every down."

TD No. 27

Rudolph caught five passes for 69 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown that tied the game at 14 in the second quarter.

It was the 27th touchdown of Rudolph's career, which ranks second in team history by a Vikings tight end. He is one away from tying Steve Jordan's mark.


Bradford completed 31 of 40 passes for the second week in a row. He turned in his first 300-plus-yard game as a Viking with 307 and finished with a 104.9 rating. It was his fifth game with a passer rating above 100 in eight starts with the Vikings.

Stefon Diggs also caught 13 passes for the second week in a row. Diggs racked up 164 yards in his first game as a pro in Maryland, his native state.

Elite company

Brian Robison appeared in his 151st regular-season game, moving into a tie with Mark Mullaney for the fourth-most games played by a Vikings defensive end. Robison needs three more to tie Hall of Famer Chris Doleman for third. Doleman's time as a linebacker to begin his career is included in his total of 154 games with Minnesota.

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