STL-MIN Grades: Chippy game results in Vikings victory, Bridgewater injury
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Vikings’ 21-18 win over the Rams:
St. Louis Rams
– If you’re going to rely solely on running back Todd Gurley (+1.5), the Rams offensive line is going to need to give him more help than they did on Sunday. So many runs were DOA because of a completely blown block up front. The main culprits were left tackle Greg Robinson (-4.0) and left guard Andrew Donnal (-7.9). Gurley averaged only 1.5 yards prior to contact.
– Mark Barron (-2.6) had looked like a natural in his transition to linebacker up until this week’s game. Against Adrian Peterson, though, he took his lumps. The former safety was asked to take on a few more blocks than usual and the results were predictable. The lowlight of his game came on the Vikings last third down conversion in overtime. Barron was lined up in the weakside A-gap and as Peterson took the handoff right on a dive play, Barron took the bait and abandoned his gap to attack the ball carrier in the short yardage situation. Peterson immediately cut back into the now open gap and the conversion put the Vikings into field goal range.
– One of the stories of the game for the Rams was their lack of discipline. This manifested most visibly in their penalty problem. On defense alone, seven different players were flagged. The Vikings were gifted six first downs via penalty and countless other second chances due to those mental errors. It’s not just a one-time thing, either. The Rams -14.9 overall penalty grade is the second lowest in the NFL.
DT Aaron Donald (+5.0)
LB Akeem Ayers (+4.0)
RG Jamon Brown (+2.0)
FS Rodney McLeod (+2.0)
WR Kenny Britt & CB Trumaine Johnson (+1.9)
– Linval Joseph (+10.9) put on possibly the most dominant performance against the run that I’ve ever seen. He manhandled blocks in ways you almost never see. Down after down. The defensive tackle collected six stops against the run, and blew up many more setting up easy plays for his teammates, en route to a crazy +8.6 run defense grade for the game.
– This was not a pretty game from Teddy Bridgewater (-1.4 passing). While he made some nice plays with his legs early on, including a touchdown run, he struggled mightily trying to make plays with his arm down the field. Bridgewater finished just 3 of 8 on targets 10+ yards past the line of scrimmage. That’s rarely going to get it done. Shaun Hill (-1.2) wasn’t much better with his longest completion on six attempts traveling just three yards down the field.
– It’s time to give some love to the Vikings guard, Michael Harris (+4.4). His performance after switching from tackle this year has flown under the radar, but no guard has graded out higher over the past two weeks. On Sunday, he was the only lineman not consistently overmatched by the Rams uber-talented interior. The right guard was matched up with Michael Brockers much of the day and held him to his lowest run defense grade of the season.
DT Linval Joseph (+10.9)
RG Michael Harris (+4.4)
LB Anthony Barr (+4.2)
DE Everson Griffen (+3.0)
CB Xavier Rhodes (+1.2)