Film look: Minnesota Vikings blitzed to seven sacks

How the Minnesota Vikings "got home" on Matthew Stafford seven times, with the All-22 look at each sack.

Mike Zimmer doesn’t always blitz, but when he does he prefers to show one thing and do another.

The Minnesota Vikings head coach lived up to his aggressive reputation against the Detroit Lions.

The Vikings often showed blitz with their two young linebackers, Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks, on Sunday. Sometimes they followed through, other times it was a well-disguised bluff that had the Lions offensive line folding.

“I feel like they were so worried about our front four that when coach started dialing up the blitzes, we just came free,” defensive end Everson Griffen said. “I never seen that many free runners in my life. We just do our job, man. That’s what coach preaches: Do your job every play, beat your man, win your individual battles and that’s what we did and we did that for four quarters and it feels good to be 4-2 right now.”

The result was seven sacks and 13 quarterback hits. They came in several different forms. Six of the seven sacks came with the blitz, and on two of those blitzes the Vikings sent six men after quarterback Matthew Stafford.

A review of the film appears to show the Vikings’ disguised pressures causing missed assignments and miscommunication throughout the Lions offensive line.

“Obviously, it’s a good defensive unit and they give you some problems, but they always do,” Detroit head coach Jim Caldwell said. “There’s going to be times where they’re going to make you look bad … that happens, but we’ve got to be able to counter that with a couple of big plays to kind of slow it down, particularly some of the stunts and those kinds of things. We weren’t able to do it.”

For the second time this year, Stafford was battered facing the Vikings, and this time he was shown on the sidelines venting frustration at his offensive line.

The Vikings? They were just happy to get a divisional road win.

“Sacks are a good thing in this league. Pressure is a good thing. Hitting the quarterback is good,” Griffen said. “But winning is even better.”

Here is how the Vikings “got home” on Stafford seven times:

1. Chad Greenway

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Greenway lines up behind Brian Robison on the left side of the defensive line and the offensive tackle is forced to make a decision. Robison goes wide and forces Stafford up in the pocket and Greenway ducks inside and pounces.

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2. Everson Griffen

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Griffen lines up at the “wide nine” spot and the Lions offensive line slants right, leaving Griffen unblocked. The center chucks Linval Joseph once and tries to protect backside, but Griffen is too quick and gets to Stafford before the play has a chance to develop.

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3. Harrison Smith

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Anthony Barr shows an A-gap blitz but backs off as the ball is snapped. Eric Kendricks and Smith race in with only one blocker for both of them and Smith is the beneficiary.

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4. Eric Kendricks 1

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Kendricks bluffs an A-gap blitz and then loops around the outside of Robison, who once again maintains the edge to force Stafford up in the pocket, much like he did on Greenway’s sack, and Kendricks is there to take down the quarterback.

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5. Anthony Barr & Everson Griffen

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The Vikings flood the right side of the defensive line and there is too much there for the Lions to handle. Griffen and Barr get credited for the sack, and Captain Munnerlyn is also involved.

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6. Eric Kendricks 2

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As has become the signature of the Zimmer defense, the Vikings flood the A gap with Barr and Kendricks both showing pressure. Barr backs off, but the center slides his way and decides to double Tom Johnson. Kendricks is unimpeded to the quarterback.

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7. Tom Johnson

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Griffen lines up in the “wide nine” spot again, with Smith showing blitz behind of him. Instead, Smith backs into coverage at the snap, Griffen and Johnson run a stunt and Johnson is left unblocked on the outside.

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