Upon Further Review

The Vikings walked away from the St. Louis Rams in the second half Sunday, but the Rams may have shown the Vikings' remaining opponents a blueprint of what to do against Brad Johnson and his lack of mobility -- come with blitzes early and often. If the Rams were victims of anything Upon Further Review, it was that they didn't bring the blitz enough at key times.

As the Vikings prepare for their biggest game of the season to date this Sunday when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers with a loss potential serving as a death knell for the loser, this edition of Upon Further Review looks at what the St. Louis Rams did to shut down Brad Johnson and what the Steelers will likely look to emulate.

Although the Rams have one of the worst-rated defenses in the NFL, they found a way to contain the Vikings passing offense by bringing blitzes early and often. The Vikings had a series of three-and-outs during the game that were brought on primarily by constant Rams blitzing. With the Steelers 3-4, where blitzes are plentiful and come from all angles from many different players, seeing what worked for the Rams could be a problem the Vikings offensive coaching staff will have to adjust to.

Although Johnson made the right reads on most of his opportunities, the Vikings can't expect to generate a lot of offense if he keeps getting knocked down – which happened no less than eight times Sunday. Here's a look at the how the Rams kept the passing game in check for much of the day.

13:11 remaining. On all three plays of the opening drive, the Rams bring a safety or corner blitz on every play – two passes and one run. The Vikings go three-and-out.

9:58 remaining. The Vikings put together a drive that has 10 snaps – seven passes and three runs. On the three biggest plays of drive – 12-yard passes to Jermaine Wiggins and Nate Burleson and a 13-yard reverse for a score by Koren Robinson – the Rams don't blitz. The Vikings score a touchdown.

2:28 remaining. The Vikings run three plays with one blitz coming from the left side in which Johnson rolls to his right away from the pressure.

10:32 remaining. Johnson takes his second big hit of the day on a third-down blitz in which the Rams bring both safeties. Jim Kleinsasser was the hot read, but Johnson is drilled as he throws and the ball goes behind Kleinsasser. The Vikings go three-and-out.

6:54 remaining. The Rams blitz on three of the four Vikings' snaps and, on the only one they don't, Johnson completed a 9-yard pass to Kleinsasser. Johnson takes one shot with a bomb and pays the price for it by getting hammered by a blitzing linebacker. The Vikings get enough yardage to kick a field goal and take a 10-3 lead.

3:34 remaining. The Rams blitz on three of five snaps. Of the two they don't and Johnson passes, he completes a 7-yard pass to Mewelde Moore. The Vikings have to punt.

1:18 remaining. The Rams blitz Johnson with a corner blitz on second down and a kitchen sink blitz on third down in which two players both deliver shots to Johnson. Both passes are incomplete, but the Vikings are close enough for a field goal to take a 13-3 lead.


15:00 remaining. Johnson takes a big shot on the first play of the half as the Rams bring a linebacker blitz and Johnson is flagged for intentional grounding. The Vikings go three-and-out on the drive.

10:42 remaining. The Rams blitz on just two of the five snaps on the drive and, of the three they come with only a four-man DL rush, Johnson completed passes of 15 yards to Koren Robinson and a 49-yard strike to Marcus Robinson. The Vikings get a touchdown and take a 20-13 lead.

5:05 remaining. The Vikings have five snaps on the next drive and the Rams inexplicably don't blitz on any plays. The Vikings pick up the 21 yards needed for a touchdown and take a 27-13 lead.

15:00 remaining. The Rams blitz twice on running plays and stuff Michael Bennett twice. Although they don't blitz on third down, Johnson takes a shot as he dumps a screen pass to Bennett. The Vikings go three-and-out.

12:35 remaining. The Vikings have four snaps on the drive and the Rams bring a corner blitz on one play and a pair of linebacker blitzes on the other. After a pass on the first play of the drive, the Vikings won't pass again for any of the final nine offensive snaps.

The Rams showed other teams that Johnson can be pressured in blitz packages. In the three touchdown drives the offense put together, the only thing that they had in common is that they were drives in which the Rams broke from their habit of blitzing on the majority of plays and Johnson made them pay. That won't be lost on the Steelers who, Upon Further Review, may look to bring everyone and his brother on blitzes vs. Johnson Sunday.

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