ReFo: Vikings @ Rams, Week 1
Week 1 in the NFL season is always something of a crapshoot. Teams that looked good in preseason suddenly lay an egg and those that looked terrible come out of nowhere to prove they’re actually capable units once the games really count.
This, though, was a case of both teams replicating what they did in the exhibition games with the 4-0 Vikings stomping down the 1-3 Rams, who were of course without QB Sam Bradford after he was lost during the preseason. The Vikings always looked in control in this game, though the score line does perhaps flatter them after the Rams were forced to go with Austin Davis once Shaun Hill had picked up an injury.
Minnesota Vikings – Performances of Note
Rhett Ellison, TE: +3.5
Breakdown: There might not be a more underrated player in football, than Ellison, who has quietly become a fine blocker and a capable weapon when called upon. He blocked well all game and then broke out the truck stick on his one 22-yard reception.
Signature Play: Q4, 7:33 Ellison takes quick simple pass and then decides to go all Beastmode on the Rams D, skittling would-be tacklers before he is finally taken down for a 22-yard gain.
Josh Robinson, CB: +3.2
Breakdown: Salvaging the career of the much-maligned Robinson is one of Mike Zimmer’s biggest challenges coming into the job. On this evidence at least he’s on the right track. Robinson was in close coverage all game long and even made plays on the football.
Signature Stat: Robinson was thrown at three times, yielding just one catch for 7 yards while breaking one up and picking another off. Throwing at him in this game yielded a passer rating of 2.8
Blair Walsh, K: +3.3
Breakdown: Upstaging Greg ‘The Leg’ in his own house isn’t an easy job but that’s exactly what Blair Walsh did in this game. Hit both of his field goal attempts, both from 40+ and one from 50+ and was hammering the ball out of the back of the end zone on every kickoff, even completing the crossbar challenge on one kick.
Signature Stat: Kicked off seven times in the game, six were touchbacks; one was brought out from 9 yards deep in the end zone.
St. Louis Rams – Performances of Note
Brian Quick, WR: 0.0
Breakdown: Let’s start with encouraging signs, because there were a couple in this game for the Rams. Brian Quick looked dangerous and able to get open and make plays. His grade is hurt by getting flagged for pushing off a little too aggressively, but he was the only Rams receiver really threatening to do damage.
Signature Stat: Caught seven of the nine passes thrown his way, falling just a single yard short of 100 receiving yards on the day.
Aaron Donald, DT: +1.8
Breakdown: One more good before we get into the ugly – rookie Aaron Donald flashed the kind of play that made him such a sought after prospect. On a couple of occasions he was too quick for the Vikings’ blockers, shooting into the backfield and killing plays before they got started. Was occasionally wiped out once a blocker got their hands on him, however.
Signature Play: Q4, 9:07 Here Donald blows past Phil Loadholt before the big right tackle can even get out of his stance, dropping Adrian Peterson 6 yards deep into the backfield.
Scott Wells, C: -4.0
Breakdown: This pick could have gone to several of the linemen and Wells is merely indicative of the point that the Rams lost the battle at the line of scrimmage. Badly. Wells was routinely beaten by the Minnesota interior defenders and it made for tough sledding in the run game.
Signature Stat: Allowed one hurry, one knockdown and was flagged for holding during the game
PFF Game Ball
The Vikings had a few standout performances in the game and several players in the running for the game ball, but in the end I’m giving it to Rhett Ellison for his all-around work.
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