Alex Boone was tired of hearing about the troubles on the offensive line. It looks like he did something about it himself on Monday night.
Quarterback Sam Bradford wasn’t sacked and was hit only twice, according to NFL stats. The Minnesota Vikings averaged only 3.2 yards per carry and remain at the bottom of the league’s standings for rushing offense, but that it was still easily their best production in the running game of the 2016 season.
It was also Boone’s best game since joining the Vikings as their prized free-agent signing for 2016.
“That was probably his best game here,” head coach Mike Zimmer said after looking at film of the Monday night win over the New York Giants.
Boone was effective in both pass protection and run blocking.
Two plays stand out in Boone’s run blocking against a strong Giants defensive line. On the Vikings’ first touchdown, Matt Asiata ran behind Boone, who powered his assignment back into the end zone and allowed Asiata to easily score on a 1-yard dive.
“Fundamentally he was very good. He had one holding penalty, which I guess was holding,” said Zimmer, who appeared to be refraining from criticizing an official’s call. “But he got on the guys. He was good in pass protection, physical in the run game. It was his best game he’s played since he’s been here.”
On the series after Asiata’s touchdown, Boone pulled and led the way for Jerick McKinnon down field. Boone threw a key second-level block about midway through McKinnon’s run that helped spring him to the team’s longest run of the season, a 25-yard scamper around left end.
In addition to Boone’s best game in his short Vikings career, it might have been the best overall performance by the offensive line, despite playing with two backups after Andre Smith was hurt six plays into the Vikings’ offensive plays.
After replacing Boone last week at left guard, Jeremiah Sirles was called into duty at right tackle for Smith on Monday night. He had a good performance there, too.
“He played well again in another spot. The thing about him is he’s going to battle all night long,” Zimmer said of Sirles. “He had some bad plays, like everybody. But he’s a battler and it’s important to him. He’s done a nice job.”
Zimmer said on Tuesday that he didn’t have any more clarity on the elbow injury that took Smith out of the game, meaning Sirles could see duty again on Sunday against the Houston Texans.
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Whether that means a long-term starting job for Sirles remains to be seen
“Right now we’re not planning on that,” Zimmer said, “but we’ll see how it goes.”