Vikings

5 Numbers That Tell the Story Of the Vikings-Rams Game

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Becker (USA TODAY Sports)

The Minnesota Vikings’ offense came out flat for a majority of the first half against the Los Angeles Rams, unable to capitalize on opportunities afforded to them by the defense. Despite some second half improvements ultimately, Kirk and his weapons committed unforced errors all game until it was too late, losing 30-23. The game effectively ended with a futile onside kick, and the Vikings once again falling under.500. By Sunday night, the Philadelphia Eagles had claimed control of the seventh seed by beating the New York Giants, 34-10.

Here are five numbers that tell the story of the Vikings’ loss against the Rams.

14

The offensive line struggled yet again, allowing 14 pressures on 32 dropbacks. After Bears defensive lineman Akeem Hicks wreaked havoc on the interior line last week, many wondered what would happen when facing three-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald. The result was as expected.

The interior line struggled all game. Oli Udoh, Ezra Cleveland, and Garrett Bradbury looked hapless when charged with the task of keeping No. 99 out of the backfield. Udoh, in particular, got the brunt of the action, with Donald facing off against him on most of the passing reps. Udoh didn’t fare well, as Donald used power and finesse to constantly get in Kirk Cousins’ face.

Christian Darrisaw was the one positive from the offensive line. He allowed zero pressures against one of the best defensive lines in the NFL.

0.5

The offensive line wasn’t much better when it came to opening up holes in the run game. The Vikings averaged only 0.5 yards before contact. With superstar running back Dalvin Cook set to miss this week on the COVID/Reserve list, everyone expected that running the ball might be a bit harder. However, the offensive line did little to make Alexander Mattison and Kene Nwangwu‘s job easier.

It didn’t matter to what side the Vikings ran the ball, it felt like there was always a Rams defender waiting to make the play. LA’s defensive line bullied the Vikings’ offensive line in both the passing game and the run game. They pushed the offensive line back every single play to prevent any chance of the linemen making it to the second level.

The offensive line was able to produce in the screen game when they were able to get out in front and push the smaller defenders into the ground. But no screens were called until it was late in the fourth quarter and the team needed to come back from a multi-score deficit.

4.8

The Rams were able to run the ball with ease all day, averaging 4.8 yards per carry. Coming into the game, we were all aware of the threats the Rams had at wide receiver with Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr. But something nobody anticipated was for former New England Patriots running back Sony Michel being LA’s best offensive player.

Michel was able to break off chunk yardage with ease, constantly putting LA in second- or third-and-short situations and keeping them ahead of the chains. On a day where quarterback Matthew Stafford struggled, having the ability to run the ball and pick up solid yardage on almost every carry proved to be a huge asset to the Rams’ offense.

96

Stafford picked on slot corner Mackensie Alexander, who allowed 96 of the Rams’ 197 passing yards. Alexander had a rough day, allowing all seven of the passes thrown in his coverage to be completed and allowed four first downs on those seven catches.

Stafford struggled with accuracy and never got in a rhythm, but he seemed to always look Alexander’s way whenever he needed a completion in a critical situation. Guarding the likes of Beckham and Kupp isn’t one of the easier tasks that this secondary has had all season.

2851

Despite the loss, the Vikings made some history. Justin Jefferson eclipsed Odell Beckham Jr. for most yards by a wide receiver in their first two years. Jefferson now has 2,851 yards with two games to go. He has improved on the marks he set as a rookie in his second season. His 1,400 yards broke Randy Moss’ rookie record last year.

Despite often drawing Jalen Ramsey in coverage — arguably the best cornerback in the NFL — Jefferson still managed to put up 116 yards on eight receptions. He finished with more yards than any receiver on either team. While his timing with Cousins looked off today, he will have a chance to make up for that on Sunday night as the Vikings take on the Packers with their playoff dreams hanging by a thread.

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