Vikings-Rams Game Plan

The plans from both ends seem fairly obvious, as the Vikings will be facing a rookie quarterback. Get the game plans, key matchups and injury impact as the St. Louis Rams prepare to travel to Minnesota for a showdown with the Vikings.


The Rams might have been a bigger concern for the Vikings if the teams had been playing a week earlier, but Washington provided Minnesota's defensive staff with plenty of ideas of how to slow rookie quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick last Sunday.

Fitzpatrick, who led the Rams to an impressive 33-27 come-from-behind victory at Houston in overtime on Nov. 27, looked much more like the seventh-round pick he was in St. Louis' 24-9 loss to the Redskins.

The fact the Rams could not establish a run game also has to give the Vikings confidence that they will be able to devote plenty of attention to St. Louis' third-ranked passing game. Nose tackle Pat Williams alone will make it hard for the Rams to establish anything on the ground.

The Minnesota defense hasn't given up more than 21 points in a game since the winning streak began, and the Rams' days as the "Greatest Show on Turf" are behind them. Nonetheless, a Vikings secondary that didn't see much action against Detroit's low-octane passing attack last Sunday figures to get its share of work.

This could give free safety Darren Sharper a chance to add to his seven interceptions — a figure that ties him with Chicago cornerback Nathan Vasher for the NFC lead.

The best news for the Vikings might be that their 25th-ranked offense will be facing a defense that is 31st in the NFL. The Rams are 28th versus the pass and 30th versus the run. However, the St. Louis defense will present at least one challenge, as the Vikings offensive line, and rookie Marcus Johnson in particular, will be tested by Rams left end Leonard Little.

Vikings quarterback Brad Johnson, who threw for a season-high 256 yards against Detroit, will try to establish the pass early against the Rams' suspect secondary.


  • Vikings rookie RT Marcus Johnson will be thrown into the fire in his third start at the position, facing Rams DE Leonard Little. Little, who has four sacks this season, had a career-high four sacks, three quarterback pressures and two forced fumbles in St. Louis' 48-17 victory over Minnesota in 2003. Look for the Vikings to give Johnson plenty of blocking help, with TE Jim Kleinsasser likely to provide a double-team.

  • Vikings RB Mewelde Moore or Michael Bennett will be trying to run the ball against Rams MLB Chris Claiborne, who should have no shortage of incentive in this game. Claiborne spent the past two seasons with the Vikings and will want to prove Minnesota made a mistake by letting him go.

  • Vikings rookie RDE Erasmus James will go against one of the NFL's best left tackles when he faces the Rams' Orlando Pace. Pace is a six-time Pro Bowl selection and promises to make life interesting for the Vikings' second first-round choice.


    Rookie DT C.J. Mosley has proven to be a capable replacement for the injured Kevin Williams. Mosley had his third sack in two games last Sunday and appears to be doing a good job of not over-thinking things and taking what opponents give him. Playing beside NT Pat Williams, who should be a lock for the Pro Bowl, presents additional opportunities for Mosley.

    RB Mewelde Moore aggravated his sprained right ankle last Sunday. Moore is supposed to be good to go, but Michael Bennett could be a candidate for expanded time after carrying the ball 22 times at Detroit. Bennett tweaked his ankle at home early this week but is fine.

    The special teams could be impacted by the loss of rookie P Chris Kluwe. Veteran Darren Bennett steps into that role and probably will be a little rusty.


    The intent is fairly obvious for the Rams; the question is whether they can carry it out. When the Rams are on offense, teams have put eight in the box, making it difficult to run, and if the Rams pass, the blitz comes, and blockers have struggled picking it up. If the Rams can get RB Steven Jackson going and take pressure off rookie QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, they can compete in this game, provided the defense minimizes big plays.


    Rams defensive left end Leonard Little vs. Vikings RT Marcus Johnson: Little has only four sacks this season, and is hampered by an ankle that will need surgery after the season. However, the rookie Johnson will still have his hands full.

    Rams secondary vs. Vikings WR Koren Robinson: The Rams' defensive backs make a lot of receivers look good, and they will have to contend with Robinson, who is beginning to make an impact on the Vikings' offense.


    The secondary should get SS Adam Archuleta back, but how effective he will be after missing two games because of a concussion is a question.

    The offensive line lacks depth with OL Blaine Saipaia now on injured reserve. He was the team's backup guard and tackle. RT Alex Barron is out because of a hand injury.

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