When the Minnesota Vikings (8-2) squared off Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams (7-3) on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, it was a clash of two of the NFC’s best teams. The Rams brought the league’s best scoring offense in the league to Minnesota, and after winning four straight games, the national media was taking notice of first-year head coach Sean McVay‘s team.
The Vikings, winners of five straight coming into Sunday, had other plans. With one of the league’s best defenses under coach Mike Zimmer, the Vikings suffocated a red-hot Rams offense, winning 24-7. Minnesota overcame two missed Kai Forbath field goals, outpacing the Rams 451-254 in offensive yards. The Vikings converted on seven of 14 third-down conversions, while holding Los Angeles to three of 11 on third down. The win sets up a showdown between the Vikings and Detroit Lions (6-4) on Thanksgiving that will play a large part in determining the NFC North champion at season’s end.
On that note, take a look back at three takeaways from the Vikings week 11 victory over the Rams.
Week 11 Minnesota Vikings Takeaways
The Defense Rights the Ship
Despite only scoring seven points on Sunday, the Rams looked like they were going to continue their offensive dominance after a nine-play, 75 yard drive to start the game. The Rams used an up-tempo offense that mixed running back Todd Gurley runs along with play-action passes that allowed quarterback Jared Goff to keep changing plays at the line. Gurley capped the drive with a six-yard touchdown, and the Vikings defense looked dumbfounded for the first time since their win streak began.
After that? The Vikings started getting pressure on Goff, with defensive end Danielle Hunter sacking Goff at the Rams one-yard line to force the Rams to punt, setting up a short field for the Vikings that led to Minnesota’s first touchdown of the game. The rest of the game went the same way, with the Rams only accumulating 179 yards after their scoring drive. Gurley never got going, finishing with only 37 yards on 15 carries. And even though Goff didn’t turn the ball over, he finished with only 6.1 yards per attempt on 37 attempts, finishing with 225 yards. He entered the game averaging 8.5 yards per attempt and 265 yards passing per game.
The Replacements Made Their Presence Felt
With starting safety Andrew Sendejo (groin/hamstring) and starting right tackle Mike Remmers (concussion) sitting out, backup safety Anthony Harris and backup tackle Rashod Hill were forced into the starting lineup against a team that featured a strong defensive line and a vertical passing game. There was reason to be concerned, but both players filled in admirably.
On the offensive side, the Vikings had one of their best outings of the season. With running backs Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon running behind an offensive line that wasn’t at full strength, the Vikings accumulated 171 yards off of 35 carries. Murray did most of the heavy lifting, with 15 carries for 95 yards and two scores.
Through the air, Hill and the rest of the line protected Keenum well again, not giving up a sack again. They have only given up one sack in the past five games, even with players like Hill having to fill in as players along the line have been in and out of the lineup during the stretch.
On defense, Harris was battling his own injury issues this week in practice with a hamstring injury. He made an impact Sunday, though, producing the play of the year so far for the Vikings.
With 4:11 left in the first half, the score was tied 7-7, and the Rams were driving down the field, poised to take the lead. Goff found receiver Cooper Kupp on a short pass, and as Kupp sprinted towards the goal line, Harris got his arm in on Kupp, ripping the ball out of Kupp’s hands and recovering the fumble at the Vikings one-yard line. The Vikings offense was able to get the ball out of dangerous territory, killing the clock and essentially taking Minnesota to halftime. The Rams never threatened the endzone again.
Keenum Keeps a Firm Grasp on Starting Job
The Case Keenum–Teddy Bridgewater debate was quieted for another week, with Keenum having one of his best showings of the season. Keenum finished 27-of-38 passing for 280 yards and a touchdown pass while showing great pocket presence and movement to avoid sacks and get receivers open. He also avoided the turnovers that left a bad taste in Zimmer’s mouth a week ago, and there is little debate that Keenum will start on Thanksgiving.
The most productive players on the receiving end of Keenum’s passes were receiver Adam Thielen (six catches for 123 yards and a score) and tight end Kyle Rudolph (five catches, 58 yards). Up 14-7 with 10:14 left in the game, Keenum found Thielen on a hitch route 10 yards downfield. Keenum placed the ball on the inside shoulder of Thielen, and Thielen’s momentum created separation from the defender, and he was off to the races, scoring a 65 yard touchdown to seal the game.
Rudolph was able to give the Vikings a vertical threat in the middle of the field, picking up a handful of first downs. This helped take pressure off of the receivers, as receiver Stefon Diggs was relatively quite and was held to only 32 yards on four receptions. With so many other weapons on the team, Rudolph should keep seeing opportunities arise in the future to take advantage of in the intermediate part of the field.
View the original article on Last Word On Pro Football: Week 11 Minnesota Vikings Takeaways