The NFC is shaping out a little more as the Vikings used a dominant fourth quarter to make their case for being the NFL’s top team with a convincing 24-7 win over the NFC West-leading Los Angeles Rams.
Here are my instant reactions.
With two offenses capable of explosive scoring, I never considered the possibility of a defensive battle but alas, for three quarters that is what we saw. It was 7-7 entering the fourth with both teams close to even in total yards. But then the last fifteen minutes happened. A long touchdown drive and a 65-yard Adam Thielen catch-and-run later and the Vikings had built a two-score lead out of nowhere.
The defense was outstanding, holding the highest-scoring offense in the league to just seven points, Jared Goff to 225 yards and Todd Gurley to 56 yards from scrimmage. Though the Minnesota offense got off to a relatively slow start, they maintained a balanced attack, running the ball effectively and throwing it with high efficiency. Los Angeles had no counter once the pass rush stopped getting to Case Keenum and he consistently found open receivers.
This was arguably the most impressive win of the season for what has officially become one of the two best teams in the NFL.
Who Stood Out
Adam Thielen was great again with six catches for 123 yards and a touchdown, Keenum was efficient and somehow avoided being sacked despite facing constant pressure in the first half. But it was players who have been a little less predictable who made the difference.
Danielle Hunter had an average game a week ago when asked to step in for Everson Griffen but today he was dominant, particularly in the first half. He recorded a sack on a bull rush where he jumped over the right tackle to bring down Goff and got pressure on many other plays.
Latavius Murray showed a vigor in his runs that he has not all season. On his second touchdown, he was wrapped up three yards outside the endzone but he never gave up and found his way in. He finished just shy of 100 yards.
And Anthony Harris, in for the injured Andrew Sendejo, changed the game. His play as a whole was good but he made an exceptional stand in the second, stripping Cooper Kupp at the goalline to save a touchdown. The Rams’ offense never looked the same after that play.
Nick Easton had a rough first half blocking Aaron Donald on pass plays; Donald had at least four pressures in the first two quarters when working Easton. That being said, Easton got it together in the second and Donald’s presence was not felt nearly as much after the break.
The offensive line as a whole was not at their best at keeping pressure from Keenum but they made up for it but opening up holes in the running game. It was not so much due to movement up front as it was from using the Rams momentum against them and effective scheming from Pat Shurmur.
That is how good this game was for the Vikes. The struggling section in this recap turned into a positive.
It is a short week for Minnesota as they have the holiday game at Detroit on Thursday. Detroit absolutely needs this win if they have any hopes of staying in the NFC North race as they remain a full two games behind the Vikings.