It wasn’t always pretty, but the Minnesota Vikings were able to outlast the Cleveland Browns across the pond at Twickenham Stadium. The local 8:30 AM Central Time kickoff slowed the Vikings down to start the game, as the Browns led 13-12 heading into halftime. The Vikings turned the tide in the second half, however, and showed the London crowd that the Vikings were a superior team, winning 33-16.
The Browns fall to 0-8 and are halfway to the undesirable perfect season. The Vikings improve to 6-2 heading into their bye week, alone at the top of the NFC North. With a full afternoon to watch football and dissect the team’s fourth win in a row, let’s look at three takeaways from the week eight victory.
Week Eight Minnesota Vikings Takeaways
The Defense Continues Its Dominance
The Vikings held the Browns to only 276 total yards, a big chunk of those coming when the outcome was decided. Defensive end Danielle Hunter forced a fumble on the first drive of the second half, leading to a Kai Forbath field goal.
The pass rush took awhile to get to Browns rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer, but eventually came away with three sacks. Defensive end Everson Griffen tied a team record by recording at least one sack in his eighth straight game to open the season, bringing his season total to 10. Kizer finished 18-of-34 passing for 179 yards, and while not turning the ball over, failed to toss any touchdowns.
Finally, the defense continued its dominating third down defense, allowing the Browns to convert only four of 13 conversion attempts. When the Browns failed to keep their defense off the field, a team that came out with lots of energy wore down as the game went on.
Many Players Emerged in the Passing Attack
Quarterback Case Keenum had his best showing in weeks, finishing 27-of-43 passing for 288 yards, two touchdowns, and an unfortunate interception that was deflected early in the game. He spread the ball around as eight different players had a reception.
Receiver Adam Thielen, to no one’s surprise, had five receptions for 98 yards and his first touchdown of the season. He also extended his own streak of being the only player in the NFL this season to have at least five receptions in every game this season. Stefon Diggs saw the field for the first time in three weeks after battling a groin injury, but his production was limited, catching four passes for 27 yards.
Running back Jerick McKinnon put up a healthy effort through the air as well. When he wasn’t picking up blitzes, he produced six receptions for 72 yards. This was essential due to a stifling run defense that the Browns showed Sunday, holding the Vikings ground game to 88 yards.
Offensive Line Depth Doesn’t Skip a Beat
Starting left guard Nick Easton (calf) and backup Jeremiah Sirles (knee) were scratched from the starting lineup due to injuries. Rookie Danny Isidora stepped in to make his first career start a week after filling in and finishing the game last week against the Baltimore Ravens. Then, following the first drive of Sunday’s game, starting right tackle Mike Remmers was pulled after suffering a concussion. Second-year backup Rashod Hill came in for a second straight game and finished the game as well.
Both players filled in well, save for a holding penalty early in the game on Hill. Neither player had his name called, and Keenum only took one sack. While the running game never took off, it was able to move the chains late in the game and chew clock.
This is a far cry from a season ago, when a thin offensive line showed its ineptitude on a weekly basis when players went down. This year’s version has a strong starting five and formidable depth that can keep the offense on track going into the season’s second half. The bye comes at a good time, though, and the offensive line will hopefully be back at full strength in two weeks when the Vikings face the Washington Redskins on November 12th at FedEx Field.