Everson Griffen said it best after sacking San Diego Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers last season: “I know you better than you know yourself!” The Minnesota Vikings defensive end was mocking left tackle King Dunlap, who’d fallen victim to one of Griffen’s vicious spin moves.
It was one of the Vikings’ four sacks that day, a Week 3 outing that saw Minnesota dominate the Chargers up front. On 38 drop backs, Rivers was pressured 12 times and hurried countless others. Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer blitzed his way to 31-14 victory, harassing Rivers and the Chargers offense into submission.
On offense, Adrian Peterson ran roughshod through San Diego’s defense, rumbling for 126 yards and two touchdowns. His efforts, combined with those of an aggressive defense, set the stage for Minnesota’s winning ways in 2015. The Vikings would lean on Peterson and Zimmer’s defense the rest of the season, finishing with an 11-5 record and NFC North title. It’s a formula the Vikings will continue to adapt as they prepare for the 2016 season.
But first, a rematch of sorts with the Chargers, who come to town as the team’s first official opponent in U.S. Bank Stadium. And though it’s only a preseason game, it’s the third of Minnesota’s four-week tune-up; the game that most closely resembles the atmosphere of the regular season.
In the Chargers, the Vikings have an all-too-familar opponent. A year has passed since the last meeting, but both franchises remain on the same respective paths; the Vikings on their way to the NFC playoffs and the Chargers grasping to whatever greatness is left in Rivers’ right arm. A look at the tape from last week’s preseason action highlights just how familiar this matchup feels.
“I know your weakness!”