PASSING OFFENSE: C — Brad Johnson's 146 yards passing was the Vikings' third-lowest total this season and a step backward after he put up 242 yards a week earlier in Detroit. Marcus Robinson's 49 yards were the most among any receiver, and all of that came on one play. The Rams did surprise the Vikings by bringing frequent blitzes after blitzing only four times in their previous game against Washington. Johnson did not throw a touchdown pass for the third time in six starts, but he also continued to stay away from mistakes by not throwing an interception. The Vikings, though, finished the game with eight three-and-outs.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B-minus — With No. 1 RB Mewelde Moore held to only one carry because of injury, Michael Bennett got the start and gained 70 yards on 18 carries with one touchdown. All three Minnesota touchdowns came on the ground, including a 1-yard run by rookie Ciatrick Fason and a pitch play to Koren Robinson that the receiver took 13 yards. That play was put in by the Minnesota staff last week in practice and featured an empty backfield, two-tight end set that led the Rams to think pass. The Vikings accounted for 113 yards of offense on the ground behind an athletic offensive line that finally appears to be coming together.
PASS DEFENSE: B-plus — The Minnesota secondary had a season-high five interceptions against St. Louis rookie QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, including two by CB Brian Williams. CBs Antoine Winfield and Fred Smoot (in his first game back from injury) and FS Darren Sharper also had picks. The Vikings offense turned those interceptions into 10 points. Torry Holt did finish with 10 catches for 95 yards, but St. Louis did not get a touchdown through the air, and the Vikings were sharp in the back end. Winfield led the Vikings with nine tackles, and Williams had six tackles, a forced fumble and a team-leading three pass breakups to go with his two picks. Look for Smoot to remain playing as the nickel back as long as Williams continues to produce as a starter.
RUSH DEFENSE: B — The Rams rushed for 108 yards, including 67 by Steven Jackson on 19 attempts (3.5 average), but the Vikings did a good job of limiting St. Louis' gains. Fitzpatrick's 14-yard touchdown run in the third quarter was the Rams' longest run of the day. Minnesota also came up with a key stop in the second quarter. St. Louis, facing fourth-and-2 at the Vikings 8-yard line, decided to go for it. Jackson ran up the middle, and Vikings lineman Darrion Scott stopped him for no gain.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B-minus — After a couple of rough games, these units looked better against St. Louis. Receiver Koren Robinson continues to produce big plays on kick returns. His 61-yard return in the second quarter set up Paul Edinger's 37-yard field goal to give Minnesota a 10-3 lead. Edinger made both of his field-goal attempts. The Vikings also did not give up any big returns on punts or kickoffs for the first time in three games. The one poor spot was punting, where veteran Darren Bennett struggled in his first game back with team. Taking the place of the injured Chris Kluwe, Bennett averaged 37.5 gross yards and 34.4 net on eight punts. Bennett got off to a bad start as his first punt went 36 yards and his second only 26.
COACHING: B — For the second consecutive week, the Vikings drew up an offensive play that surprised an opponent. The previous week it was the 80-yard touchdown pass from Brad Johnson to Koren Robinson on the Vikings' first offensive play. This time it was the pitch to Robinson that went for a 13-yard touchdown run. The Vikings appeared to be almost too loose at times last week as they prepared for the Rams, but that did not prove to be a problem on Sunday as coach Mike Tice's team appeared focused in winning its sixth in a row.
Grading the Game: Rams
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