Friday, August 26, 2016

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

I’m going to take a different approach with “What Went Right” this week and focus my attention on just one positive aspect of last week’s game — play-action passing. While a number of things went right for the Vikings — quarterback pressure, protecting the football, Blair Walsh’s field goal accuracy — none were as encouraging as the explosive passing plays created by the team’s running (or non-running) game.

As Ben Goessling wrote earlier this week, Teddy Bridgewater completed eight-of-nine play-action passes against the Lions for a career-high 142 yards. His quarterback rating of 99.8 on such plays was also a career-high, and what’s more important, seven of those throws traveled ten-plus yards down the field. For the game, Bridgewater completed 7-of-12 passes beyond 10 yards for 147 yards and a touchdown; his best showing this season pushing the ball down the field.

Even though Adrian Peterson struggled to find running room against the Lions, averaging just 1.16 yards per carry outside of a 75-yard scamper, it’s his sudden home run ability that creates opportunities through play-action. Defenses can’t predict whether Peterson will lose yards or break through the second level, and that insecurity forces them to respect the Vikings’ running game. Any play can turn into an explosive gain, keeping defenders aggressive when they see Peterson in the backfield.

On Sunday, Norv Turner exploited the Lions’ commitment to stopping Peterson, and it worked. Teddy Bridgewater finally carried the Vikings offense to victory, with or without a consistent running attack by his side.

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Photo courtesy of vikings.com

Heading to Chicago this weekend, the Vikings have a fairly large opportunity to come away with a signature win.

Although the Bears aren’t nearly the threat the have been in previous years, the Vikings have struggled to win at Soldier Field. Facing the their only back to back stretch of road games in the 2015 season, the Vikings have an opportunity to prove they can win on the road while beating two divisional foes.

That said, there may be plenty to be weary of in our first match up with the Bears. The Vikings have had their notable losses at the hands of the Bears and I can’t knock the feeling of a potential let down game. Coming out of the bye week, Chicago has had two weeks to prepare for this game and likely realizes any hope for their season is to pick up a game against the Vikings.

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Adrian Peterson 2015 Huddle Week 7 Detroit
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

There’s been a lot of talk the past two weeks about the Vikings breaking streaks. Last week, when the Vikings won 28-19 at Ford Field against the Lions, it was the first time they’ve won a road game since since Week 8 of last year. This week, the team travels to Soldier Field where they haven’t left victorious since the 2007 season.

Hopefully, this Vikings team is different than previous years and can beat a team it’s better than, in almost every aspect, regardless of location.

To get you prepared for the Vikings second straight division showdown, we’ve gathered links from all over the web.

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(photo courtesy of Vikings.com)

In addition to once again vying for Rookie of the Week honors, Eric Kendricks has been named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month. During October, he tallied 20 tackles and four sacks in just three games.

Vikings fans were excited when Kendricks came in to Minnesota, and rightly so. The rookie looked impressive to start, and over the past couple of weeks he has solidified himself as an integral role in the Vikings’ defense. With Gerald Hodges now in San Francisco and Chad Greenway seeing fewer snaps this season, Kendricks is gaining more and more time on the field. You wouldn’t guess him to be a rookie, the way he has been performing lately.

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(photo courtesy of Vikings.com)

Adam: Chad Greenway’s 91-yard interception return
It isn’t like other plays didn’t spring to mind, especially Stefon Diggs’ recent awesomeness in Detroit, but I have to go with Chad Greenway’s 91-yard interception return for a touchdown, which sparked a victory against San Diego. Not only was I happy to see Greenway get one more Grade-A highlight reel addition before his career in Minnesota ends, but I loved the team effort and excitement that helped him get there. It wasn’t as flashy as a number of other plays we’ve seen this year, but so far it is certainly my favorite.

Carl: Stefon Diggs’ TD reception in Detroit
The rookie receiver dazzled again on Sunday against the Lions with his lightning-quick breaks and sharp route running. The Vikings wideouts have only caught two touchdowns through six games, making Diggs’ scoring effort all the more appealing. Diggs completely froze 13-year veteran cornerback Rashean Mathis on a strikingly handsome double move and topped it off by laying out over the goal line to secure a ridiculous 36-yard diving reception.

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