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Fiery Falcons Offense Cooled Off By Vikings, Beat Atlanta 14-9

Fiery Falcons Offense Keith Allison via Flickr

NFL

Vikings Cool Off Fiery Falcons Offense, Beat Atlanta 14-9

Coming into yesterday’s game, the Falcons were riding a three-game winning streak in which they had scored 27 points — or better — in each game. Atlanta’s offense seemed to be clicking on all cylinders until today. The Vikings were able to cool off the fiery Falcons offense; holding them to a season-low nine points, and another season-low 275 yards of offense.

It was a hard-fought defensive battle all game, but eventually, the Minnesota offense was able to wear down the Falcons on a monstrous 15 play, 89-yard touchdown drive that ended early in the fourth quarter. After that, the Vikings defense continued to ball with the help of a missed Matt Bryant field goal late in the fourth quarter. As a result, allowing Minnesota to run out the clock comfortably.

Defense Dominates

Xavier Rhodes was once again given the tall task to shadow Julio Jones, and once again Rhodes delivered. Jones finished the day with only two catches for 24 yards and no touchdowns. In Julio Jones’ three career games versus Rhodes, Jones only has five catches, 58 yards, and zero touchdowns.

The Vikings defense; which ranked first in third-down stops; lived up to the hype in Week 13. Atlanta came in with the number one ranked third-down offense in the entire NFL. Mike Zimmer’s defense was able to hold the Falcons to a staggering 1-10 on third-down plays.

Minnesota’s game plan was to cool off the fiery Falcons offense, and that would start with limiting the passing game. They held Matt Ryan to under 200 yards passing, and no Falcons receiver was able to eclipse more than three catches on the day. Ryan’s 173 yards through the air was his lowest total since 2013. The Vikings were also able to prevent the big play from the Falcons passing game. Atlanta was only able to get one passing play of 20 yards or more throughout the entire game.

Eric Kendricks had himself another active game on the tackle front, reaching ten tackles for the sixth time of the year. Everson Griffen and Linval Joseph delivered a QB hit each keeping the pressure on Matt Ryan. Harrison Smith brought another five tackles from his safety spot controlling the game like always.

Balanced Offense Wears Down Falcons

Minnesota’s offense was able to put together 312 total yards; 207 passing yards and 105 rushing yards. The Vikings were effective with a very balanced attack. Of Minnesota’s 63 plays, 32 were passes and 31 runs being as balanced as they could be. They were also able to win the time of possession battle putting together a solid 34 minutes of offensive time. It seemed like throughout the whole game the Vikings were just a few inches away from breaking open the Falcons defense. The Vikings did an excellent job of staying patient throughout the entire game and were able to remain committed to the run game. This offense made it much easier on the defense by limiting three and out possessions forcing the Falcons to have to sustain drives, and ultimately the defense won out.

The Players Behind The Success

Case Keenum put together one of his better games of the season so far. Keenum completed 25 passes on 30 attempts for 227 yards with two touchdowns. In the second half, Case was a different animal. He went a perfect 13 for 13 for 117 yards and a touchdown. Keenum was able to take control of the game down the stretch, allowing the “lights out” defense to cool off the fiery Falcons offense, by forcing Atlanta to try to sustain long drives.

Latavius Murray had himself another game as the feature back, and he delivered. Murray put together 76 yards on 16 carries for an average of 4.8 yards-per-carry. Latavius was also active in the passing game, catching three passes for a total of 21 yards. Even though he was not able to find his way into the end zone, Murray was still a significant factor in the success of a balanced Viking attack.

Kyle Rudolph continued his excellent season in the red zone by adding another touchdown catch. So far in the red zone, this season Rudolph has a league-high 12 catches for 73 yards and five touchdowns. Rudolph’s presence in the red zone has helped with the success of this Vikings offense and Sunday was no different.

Finishing The Gauntlet

Four weeks ago, the Vikings were coming into a stretch of their schedule that was bound to put them to the ultimate test. Fast forward to now, and the Vikings have answered the call — and then some. With wins over Washington, Los Angeles, Detroit, and now Atlanta, the Vikings have proven that they are a legit contender and the league is going to have to take notice. Next week, the Vikings will have the opportunity to finish the gauntlet stretch of the schedule a perfect 5-0. After the Vikings were able to cool off the fiery Falcons offense, they will undoubtedly be up for a critical NFC playoff matchup.