Tuesday, January 16, 2018

kyle rudolph

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings dominated the Cincinnati Bengals on the way to a Week 15 playoff berth and NFC North division title.

On Sunday, the Vikings clinched their second division title in three years.

The return of starting offensive linemen Pat Elflein and Mike Remmers as well as tight end David Morgan sparked Minnesota’s offense in what turned out to be a decisive victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. But it was the return of another offensive player that electrified US Bank Stadium.

Teddy Bridgewater made his 2017 debut as he entered the huddle with just under 11 minutes to go in the fourth quarter. With the Vikings up 34-0, Bridgewater walked on to the field as an energetic ovation from the home crowd filled the air.

Chants of “Teddy, Teddy, Teddy” bounced off the concrete barriers, translucent roof and glass doors. Fans raised their arms to the sky in excitement and applauded in appreciation of number five’s homecoming. It sounded as if the Vikings had scored a touchdown. Bridgewater said later he could barely hear the play call.

The return did not yield the kind of performance Bridgewater had hoped for (he went 0-for-2 with an interception and had three kneel-downs for negative three yards), but it was the return Bridgewater fans had long envisioned, and the festive moment came to fruition Sunday.

Speaking of festive moments, here’s a recap of yesterday’s win over Cincinnati.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The injury reports for both the Vikings and Bengals are lengthy this week.

Multiple starters on each team are in jeopardy of missing Sunday’s game. The Vikings will be without slot cornerback Mackensie Alexander and most likely will not see starting tight end Kyle Rudoph Sunday. Minnesota also lost tight end Blake Bell for the season due to a shoulder injury.

The team made some roster moves Friday in order to account for the absences at tight end.

The Bengals will essentially be down all three of their starting linebackers. Starter Kevin Minter was placed on IR this week and is done for the season. That’s going to hurt Cincinnati’s run defense, which is already ranked 32nd in the NFL. The Bengals will also be without starting cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.

With the Viking looking to clinch the NFC North division for the second straight week, the injury situation could give them a leg up (no pun intended) as they look to finish the season strong and secure a playoff berth in front of their home fans on Sunday.

BREAKING NEWS: According to ESPN Cincinnati Bengals reporter Katherine Terrell’s Twitter feed, running back Joe Mixon did NOT pass the concussion protocol and will miss Sunday’s game. Also, Bengals offensive lineman T.J. Johnson was placed on injured reserve today.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings made a few roster moves in preparation of Sunday’s game against the Bengals.

Starting tight end Kyle Rudolph will likely miss the Vikings game Sunday due to an ankle injury. As a result, Kyle Carter was called up from the practice squad and will join the team’s active roster Friday.

Carter is 24 years-old. The 6-foot 3, 245-pound tight end is in his second NFL season. He played college football at Penn State. Carter originally signed with Minnesota as an undrafted free agent in 2016 before spending the rest of the season on the Vikings practice squad. He looked good in training camp this summer and was among the team’s final cuts before he was assigned to the practice squad.

To make room on the roster for Carter, the Vikings placed tight end Blake Bell (shoulder) on injured reserve. Bell played in 13 games this season before being shelved. He caught 3 passes for 19 yards and hauled in a 2-point conversion last week against the Panthers.

Fellow tight end David Morgan (concussion) practiced in full Thursday after missing the Vikings game against the Carolina Panthers last Sunday.

The team is expected to deploy Morgan and Carter as the tight ends Sunday against Cincinnati.

Jack Tocho was not gone very long. Three days after being waived by the team when offensive tackle Storm Norton was signed, the Vikings signed the safety back to the practice squad Friday.

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Vikings should get Pat Elflein, Mike Remmers, and maybe Riley Reiff back Sunday.

Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer was in a better mood Wednesday at his press conference. That may have something to do with the health of his beat-up offensive line.

Zimmer was calm today when asked how he felt about the offensive line heading into Sunday’s game against Cincinnati.

“I feel pretty good. I think we’ll get a lot of them back,” Zimmer continued. “We should get [Pat] Elfein back this week, I think we should get [Mike] Remmers back. There’s a good chance, a possibility of getting [Riley] Reiff back.”

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Minnesota Vikings 24, Carolina Panthers 31

Game Recap

The Vikings came up short in their attempt to win nine games in a row Sunday. The last game of a three-game road trip resulted in Minnesota’s third loss of the season, and prevented the 10-3 Vikings from clinching the playoffs and capturing the NFC North division crown.

Offensively the Vikings failed to establish the rushing attack early. Jerick McKinnon led the team with 46 yards on seven carries (6.6 YPC) and Latavius Murray managed only 14 yards on nine carries (1.6 YPC). Quarterback Case Keenum added 40 yards on five rushes.

The Vikings had some success through the air but were doomed with turnovers at inopportune times. Keenum finished the day 27 of 44 (61%) passing for 280 with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Vikings receiver Adam Thielen led Minnesota with six catches for 105 yards and a touchdown, but he also had two key drops in the end zone before the half. Instead of taking the lead at halftime the Vikings settled for a Kai Forbath field goal.

Stefon Diggs had six catches for 64 yards but had a ball bounce off his hands late in the game which resulted in a Carolina interception.

Tight end Kyle Rudolph had three catches for 42 yards with a touchdown but he also had issues catching the ball. Two dropped passes in the first half would have resulted in big plays for the offense. The Vikings top three pass catchers all had crucial drops throughout the game.

The Vikings defense was hurt by big plays, specifically two long runs. Carolina’s first touchdown was a 60-yard blast by Jonathan Stewart to the right of the center on third-and-one. Later in the game Cam Newton sealed the win with a 62-yard scamper up the middle of the field.

Defensive linemen Linval Joseph and Everson Griffen each collected a sack but Zimmer’s top-2 defensive unit couldn’t bounce back after giving up the long runs. Carolina rode 216 rushing yards en route to their fifth victory in six games.