In the last two weeks, Minnesota Vikings fullback Zach Line has been a touchdown machine, recording one in each of the last two weeks. Line said that every week offensive coordinator Norv Turner draws up multiple goal-line plays just in case they end up in that situation. He knew there were several plays set to go his way and he was happy he got the chance.
In just three games, Line already has half the amount of rushes that Jerome Felton, the Vikings fullback a year ago, had. He also has two more touchdowns (Felton didn’t record any).
Line’s usage early in the season is a little surprising, especially considering how little Felton was used a year ago. Line has recorded 20-plus snaps in the last two games, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater even joked that Turner might have some ulterior motives when it comes to his fullback.
“Coach Turner made a joke earlier in the week that he had Zach on his fantasy team,” Bridgewater said. “It’s good to see Zach in the end zone. I’ll tell you one thing, he needs to work on that spike if he’s going to get in the end zone quite often. Zach, he’s a guy who works extremely hard, we’re proud of him. He’s making huge strides in this offense; he’s doing a great job of leading for those backs. When he gets his opportunity to score touchdowns, he’s two-for-two right now.”
As Bridgewater said, each time Line has gotten into the end zone he spikes the ball, much like the New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski does, but it did not go so well his last score. After getting into the end zone, he went for the spike but lost his handle on the ball and had to hesitate on the finish.
“I was trying to get the ball in my hand,” Line said. “Fumbled the spike a little bit, but I finally finished it off – just took a minute.”
A big reason for Line’s success on the goal line, and also his amount of usage on the field, is the return of Adrian Peterson and the team’s focus on the running game. Peterson has rushed for over 100 yards in each of the Vikings’ past two games.
The Vikings want to go out and dominate on the ground and having Line in the backfield with Peterson seems to be working.
“I think you start running the ball on people and start dominating the run game, it starts hurting defenses,” Line said. “They don’t want to get the ball run down their throat, so if we can run the ball we’re going to run the ball. It makes it easier to pass the ball and takes pressure off Teddy. So we definitely put a big emphasis on running the ball during the week.”
Peterson rushed for two touchdowns Sunday against the San Diego Charger, but he missed out on a third one by ending on the 1-yard line. The same thing happened the week before. Each of those times Turner opted to give the ball to Line and it turns out Peterson has actually been happy about those decisions.
“When I came up short on the 1-yard line ... I was a little tired and I was looking back, please call 20 rest to the fullback,” Peterson said. “It felt good again to see my fullback get in there. He works so hard and a touchdown for him means so much.”
The Vikings head out west to play the Denver Broncos next week and you can be sure they are once again going to try to dominate the ground game, which means Line should continue to get plenty of work. He is not sure if he can continue his streak of touchdowns or not, but he wouldn’t complain if another one came his way.