Minnesota Vikings eschewed blitz vs. Chargers

Whether it was because they didn’t want to show anything more or not, the Minnesota Vikings were one-and-done with their blitzes from the starters on Sunday.

Even without their top passer, Everson Griffen, available on Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings didn’t feel the need to blitz often with their first-team defense on the field.

With most of their starting defense on the field, the Vikings limited San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers to a 33.8 passer rating, completing 5 of 9 passes for 54 yards and throwing an interception.

The interception came on Rivers’ second pass of the game when CB Trae Waynes knocked a pass into the air and Harrison Smith came down with the interception. However, Smith downplayed the first interception at U.S. Bank Stadium because it came in the preseason.

“It doesn’t count. There’s still zero interceptions here,” Smith said.


The interception came when the Vikings rushed their standard four defensive linemen against Rivers after sending a blitz on first play of the game.

“You only get to blitz on the first play of the game in a new stadium one time so I figured might as well,” head coach Mike Zimmer said.

On San Diego’s first play from scrimmage, Zimmer sent LB Chad Greenway on a blitz, but Rivers connected with TE Hunter Henry for a 7-yard completion before the pass rush could get there.

After that, Zimmer called off the dogs and cats.

On 10 of the next 11 dropbacks for Rivers and backup QB Kellen Clemens, the Vikings sent the standard four defenders on the pass rush. On the other one, they sent only three.

DE Brian Robison said the defensive line feels good about where it is at.

“Absolutely. We feel like we’ve been hitting on all cylinders for a while. We did a lot of great things in OTAs and we picked it right back up when we got to training camp,” Robison said. “I think we’ve been headed in the right direction for the last few weeks. We just got to keep moving forward.”


When the Vikings’ first-team defense sent four on the pass rush, Rivers and Clemens combined to complete 6 of 10 passes for 78 yards, but the defense didn’t register a sack.

Griffen sat out because he was “just having a couple of issues,” according Zimmer, and the defensive end didn’t practice on Friday before the game either.

Even so, the Vikings are feeling good with a defensive line that is a good blend of experience and youth.

“The thing I love about our group is that no matter where we’re at, no matter where we feel like we’re at, we’re always striving to be better,” Robison said. “We have a room full of guys that has that attitude of going out and working hard every day and making sure to be even better than the day before even if practice was perfect. We’re trying to figure out a way to make two, three, four practices perfect. It’s a good group of guys that we got.”


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