MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Minnesota Vikings have rarely shied from a ground-oriented approach on offense in seven seasons under coach Mike Zimmer, never more apparent than in their last game.
Dalvin Cook has made this strong-arm strategy viable, rather than some tired relic. With 30 rushes for 163 yards and three touchdowns – plus two catches for 63 yards and another score – Cook carried the Vikings to a potentially pivotal victory at Green Bay. As Kirk Cousins only attempted 14 passes, Cook became the first player with 30 carries for Minnesota since 2013.
”We’re going to have to ride this guy,” Zimmer said.
The Vikings have had a player reach 30-plus rushing attempts 17 times in their 60-year history, including six by single-game franchise record holder Adrian Peterson (35). The Vikings are 16-0-1 in those games.
When asked this week to assess Cook’s unique traits, Zimmer paused briefly before invoking the name of the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, Emmitt Smith.
”Really good feet. Quick accelerator. Powerful runner. Good vision,” Zimmer said.
The Vikings have run the ball on 49.6% of their plays, the third-most in the league. Baltimore, the NFL leader, employs a run-heavy quarterback in 2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson.
”We just run yards like Swiss chard,” Cook said, using the leafy green vegetable for a clever rhyme.
The nutritional value is unmistakable, as long as they’re controlling the ball and scoring points. That’s the way they tried to win with Cook’s predecessor, too. Peterson, coincidentally, will be in Minnesota on Sunday with his latest team, the Detroit Lions.
The Vikings (2-5) have a lot of catchup to do.
They blew double-digit second-half leads and lost be one point to Tennessee and Seattle. They were also no-shows in one-sided defeats to Green Bay, Indianapolis and Atlanta. Their performance against Detroit (3-4) will reveal a lot about whether they’re truly a darkhorse contender for the expanded playoffs or better off refocusing on the future.
That summary might sound familiar to the Lions, who were unsure if quarterback Matthew Stafford would be available after placing him this week on the COVID-19 reserve list.
”We’re doing some things really well,” coach Matt Patricia said. ”We just have to learn how to finish better. I think that’s true all the way across the board.”
If Stafford is not cleared in time to play, the Lions would have to choose between Chase Daniel or David Blough. The 34-year-old Daniel has started just five games in his career with seven touchdowns and five interceptions, though he helped lead Chicago to a 16-6 victory over the Vikings last season by going 22 of 30 with a touchdown in relief of an injured Mitch Trubisky.
Blough went 0-5 as a starter last year when Stafford was out with a broken back, with four touchdown passes and six interceptions after the undrafted rookie was acquired from Cleveland. That included a loss at Minnesota, when Blough had one touchdown, was sacked five times and intercepted twice in a 20-7 loss.
Everson Griffen expected to face his former team this month, but the reunion was moved up two weeks when Dallas traded him to Detroit. The 11th-year defensive end with 77 career sacks will make his debut with the Lions on Sunday, a convenient addition to the lineup with defensive end Trey Flowers going on short-term injured reserve.
In addition to Peterson and Griffen, backup safety Jayron Kearse will make his return to Minnesota. Griffen could find himself lined up across from Vikings left tackle Riley Reiff, who’s been blocking as well as ever in his fourth season with the team. He played his first five years with the Lions.
Marvin Hall has taken only one-fourth of Detroit’s offensive snaps, behind Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay, Danny Amendola and rookie Quintez Cephus, but he has given the Lions a legitimate deep threat with an average of 24 yards per catch. With Golladay hampered by a hip injury this week, Hall could find more opportunity against a struggling Vikings secondary.
”The thing that he brings for us is speed,” Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. ”You can feel it, and that can really change some things in the back end.”
The Vikings, who have surrendered 30.6 points per game for the fourth-worst average in the league and rank third-to-last in passing yards allowed, have been fighting a dual challenge of inexperience and injuries at cornerback all season. The only one who has played in every game is rookie starter Jeff Gladney. Chris Jones, a recent waiver claim from the Lions, could see his first action for Minnesota with five other cornerbacks dealing with injuries this week.
The Vikings have lost five straight at U.S. Bank Stadium, since beating Blough and the Lions on Dec. 8, 2019. That’s their longest such streak since 2011 and approaching the franchise record, set between the 1966-67 seasons when the Vikings lost six consecutive games at Metropolitan Stadium and tied a seventh before stopping the skid.
Zimmer spoke to the players this week about restoring their home-field edge, even if the absence of fans has negated the usual noise advantage.
”We need to bring our own energy. We need to bring our own excitement. We need to play like the fans are there,” Zimmer said. ”Hopefully they can do it through it through osmosis or something.”
More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL
Copyright 2020 STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
New York Rangers get OK to interview Gerard Gallant for coaching job
The New York Rangers plan to interview Gerard Gallant for their head coaching job, TSN reported.
The Vegas Golden Knights, who fired Gallant during the 2019-20 season, reportedly have granted permission.
A first conversation between the Rangers and Gallant was expected to take place quickly, before Gallant heads to Latvia to coach Team Canada at the IIHF World Championship, which runs from May 21-June 6.
Gallant, 57, was the first coach of the expansion Golden Knights and led them to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season in 2017-18. The Washington Capitals won in five games.
He was fired 49 games into his third season when the team was 24-19-6, and he had an overall record of 118-75-20 with Vegas.
He also coached the Columbus Blue Jackets (2003-07) and Florida Panthers (2014-17) and has a career record of 270-216-4-51 in 541 career games as a head coach.
The Rangers are in the midst of an overhaul. They fired head coach David Quinn and three assistant coaches on Wednesday, following the dismissal last week of team president John Davidson and general manager Jeff Gorton.
The Rangers failed to qualify for the playoffs for the fourth straight season after posting a 27-23-6 record in 2020-21. They finished in fifth place in the East Division.
Quinn, 54, compiled a 96-87-25 record during his three seasons as coach of the Rangers after taking over for Alain Vigneault on May 23, 2018.
–Field Level Media
NHL wants answer on Canada border crossing soon
The Canadian teams played only each other during the 2020-21 season in a revamped North Division because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that will continue during the first two rounds of the playoffs. It’s what happens after that — in the semifinals and finals — that is up in the air.
“The conversations are ongoing. We’ve told them we really do need to know by the end of the first round, and that’s around June 1,” Steve Mayer, the league’s chief content officer, told ESPN. “That’s pretty much the date that we’ve talked to them about, saying we have to know one way or another.”
Last season, the playoffs were held in bubbles in Edmonton and Toronto.
Under current rules, American-based teams couldn’t play in Canada without mandatory quarantines, which would make travel for home-and-away games impossible under the playoff calendar.
The NHL and government representatives last talked a week ago, and the Canadian officials submitted a variety of questions for the league’s response.
In the interim, Mayer said, the league has discussed the possibility of the Canadian team that advances from the North Division being based in the U.S. for the duration of the postseason. Talks have occurred with officials at NHL arenas where teams didn’t qualify for the playoffs.
An NHL source told ESPN this week that the league expects “a positive resolution” to the issue, however.
–Field Level Media
Canada to play 2 more home World Cup qualifiers in U.S.
As Canada continues to wrestle with the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s national soccer team will play two more of its home World Cup qualifying matches south of the border in June.
Canada will face Aruba in Bradenton, Fla., on June 5, and will take on Suriname in suburban Chicago on June 8, Canada Soccer confirmed Monday.
The games are Canada‘s last two of four matches in CONCACAF Group B. A March 26 Canadian home match against Bermuda was held in Orlando, Fla., which Canada won 5-1. Also, the Caymen Islands were the host team on March 29, when Canada rolled, 11-0.
Only one national team advances to the next round, and Canada and Suriname top the group and the game against Suriname in Bridgeview, Ill., figures to be the deciding match in both teams’ efforts to advance.
Thirty nations from Central and North America are competing in this first round with six group winners advancing to a second round of head-to-head knockout matches for the right to compete in the CONCACAF final round of eight teams competing for four places in the 2022 World Cup. A fifth team from CONCACAF advances to an intercontinental play-in round.
As was executed in Orlando, the match in Chicago will be staged in accordance with the FIFA International Match Protocols supported by the relevant public health requirements.
“We had hoped to play these matches at home with Canadian fans providing the support and momentum to play a tough nation like Suriname in FIFA World Cup Qualifiers,” said John Herdman, coach of the Canadian men’s national team. “The reality of the global pandemic and the priority to keep our communities in Canada safe means the match will be played at a neutral site in Chicago with no home advantage, but we will embrace that challenge.
“Whatever comes at us, we will take it on and do whatever we need to do to advance to the next round.”
-Field Level Media
Canadian dollar moves to extend weekly win streak as oil rebounds
Toronto Stock Exchange rises 1.21% to 19,366.69
Hong Kong freezes listed shares of media tycoon Lai under security law
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
Europe kicks off vaccination programs | All media content | DW | 27.12.2020 – Deutsche Welle
News23 hours ago
China uses coercive policies in Xinjiang to drive down Uyghur birth rates
Health23 hours ago
U.S. CDC says Fully vaccinated people can remove their masks in most places
Politics23 hours ago
U.S., UK, Germany clash with China at U.N. over Xinjiang
News23 hours ago
India’s coronavirus tally surpasses 24 million as mutant spreads across globe
Business23 hours ago
Cargojet tells pilots it may shift some work to U.S.
Health23 hours ago
COVID-19 far from under control in Americas
Real eState24 hours ago
Towns grapple with big-city-like real estate boom
Business23 hours ago
Canadian National beats Canadian Pacific with $33.6 billion Kansas City bid