On third down, Vikings' defense had Falcons right where they wanted them


The Falcons (7-5) have been smoking scorching earlier than the Vikings (10-2) confirmed up at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, changing sixty five.9 % of their third downs in a 3-recreation profitable streak during which they averaged 31.7 factors.

Towards the Vikings, Atlanta transformed its first third down of the sport, a sixteen-yard cross from 2016 NFL MVP Matt Ryan to order tight finish Levine Toilolo on third-and-6 from the Atlanta 37-yard line.

And that was the top of that.

Atlanta whiffed on its remaining 9 third-down conversion makes an attempt one week after changing eleven of 14 in a 34-20 victory over Tampa Bay. The Vikings entered the sport permitting a league-low 28.5 % conversion fee; Sunday’s work dropped that to 27.2.

“I did not assume we might (maintain them to) 1 of 10, however we all the time put an enormous emphasis on third down,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer stated. “It’s all the time an enormous a part of the sport.”

After that first — and solely — conversion within the first quarter, the closest the Falcons got here was on third-and-three from the Minnesota 29 on the primary drive of the third quarter. Ryan threw over the center to broad receiver Mohamed Sanu, who plucked a low ball for what was dominated eleven yards. The Vikings challenged that catch, and upon replay the ball was dominated to have touched the turf.

“I undoubtedly noticed it hit the bottom, however then once more I wanted to be in tighter protection,” cornerback Xavier Rhodes stated. “We knew it was going to be a defensive recreation. We needed to be in tight protection. We knew they’ve nice receivers. They’ve guys which are bodily like Julio (Jones).

“Sanu is sweet in routes out and in of his breaks. We knew we needed to be tight in protection, and Matty Ice (Ryan) is fairly correct together with his throws. We knew we needed to include our ‘A’ recreation this week.”

The Vikings rushed Ryan all day, and he performed accomplished sixteen of 29 passes for 173 comparatively innocent yards. Atlanta added 102 dashing yards on 22 carries, however could not clear up the third-down puzzle.

“I assumed we had too many third-and-7’s,” Ryan stated. “I feel one level of emphasis for us in the course of the week was to attempt to be environment friendly on first and second down. We did not do a very good job of that.”

Slowing Jones was crucial to the Vikings’ general success. Every week earlier towards the Bucs, he caught 12 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns to grow to be the primary vast receiver in NFL historical past with three video games of 250 or extra receiving yards.

Sunday, he had two catches for twenty-four yards, together with a thirteen-yard tunnel display on one of many uncommon events when Rhodes was not overlaying him.

“I…



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