The Minnesota Vikings delivered the rushing performance they desperately needed on Sunday, touting the ball for 195 yards against a porous Arizona Cardinals defense.
Minnesota finished with five plays of 20-plus yards on the ground. In the passing game, they had none, making it the first time all year the running game was the more explosive option for John DeFilippo and Co.
Let’s take a closer look at the five explosive runs from Sunday.
1st Quarter, 1st and 10, Own 40, Latavius Murray, 26 Yards
Formation: 12 personnel, two WRs right
A fantastically-blocked play opened up Murray’s first big run of the game Pat Elflein moved 305-pound defensive tackle Corey Peters out of the way, and Tom Compton did the same with Robert Nkemdiche. Then the guards, Compton and Mike Remmers got to the second level and took out Haason Reddick and Josh Bynes, allowing Murray to blast into the third level nearly untouched.
1st Quarter, 2nd and 10, Opp 21, Latavius Murray, 21 Yards, TD
Formation: 12 personnel, WRs split, Treadwell motions
The Vikings had no qualms about tipping their hand on this run as they overloaded the left side of their line with tight ends Kyle Rudolph and David Morgan, then brought their best blocking wide receiver Laquon Treadwell behind them. The trio did a marvelous job removing their assignments, especially Morgan, who eliminated Reddick to give Murray a clear path.
Cornerback Bene’ Benwikere was protecting the edge once Treadwell moved in-line, but he did a poor job joining the tackling effort once Murray made his cut between the tight ends. Safety Antoine Bethea found himself on the wrong end of a stiff arm, and Murray was gone.
3rd Quarter, 2nd and 7, Opp 42, Mike Boone, 20 Yards
Formation: 11 personnel, 2 WRs stack left, 1 WR right
Once again, the interior line came through on this zone run by Boone, his only touch of the day.
First, check out how well the line moves in unison with its first step.
And here’s the result: A gaping hole for the rookie Boone and his breakaway speed.
3rd Quarter, 1st and 10, Opp 43, Latavius Murray, 34 Yards
Formation: 12 personnel, 2 WRs left
With the Cardinals essentially putting eight in the box and inching their linebackers forward, there was no doubt they were expecting run on this first down. But a pair of decisive blocks by Remmers and Brian O’Neill, respectively, opened up another yawning lane for Murray, who gained 34 yards and plowed inside the 10-yard line. David Morgan also deserves credit for sealing the edge.
4th Quarter, 3rd and 4, Own 44, Latavius Murray, 28 Yards
Formation: 12 personnel, 2 WRs right, Rudolph motions
The Vikings got into victory formation with this final run by Murray, capping his career-high day. Minnesota sent most of its personnel to the right side and ran it left, where David Morgan was the lone tight end. Per usual, Morgan handled his assignment, while left tackle Rashod Hill — who didn’t have a great game otherwise — took care of Chandler Jones to spring Murray.
While Minnesota’s performance came against the league’s worst rush defense, it still represents a huge step in the right direction for a Vikings team that had been struggling with balance.