The latest sign of progress came in the Vikings' 31-13 victory Sunday at Seattle. Running back Chester Taylor gained a season-high 169 yards, including a franchise-record 95-yard scoring run, and Minnesota finished with 175 yards as a team.
Taylor's total made him the NFL's leading rusher before Tiki Barber reclaimed that title on Monday night. Taylor has 590 yards on 137 carries. That type of production is what the Vikings were hoping to get when they signed Taylor to a four-year, $14.1 million free-agent contract last March.
The victory over the Seahawks marked the second consecutive game in which the Vikings have been able to establish the run. In a 26-17 victory over Detroit entering their bye week, the Vikings accounted for 135 yards on the ground and had a 4.5 average. Taylor, as usual, led the way with all but 12 of the yards.
"It's pretty important," left tackle Bryant McKinnie said of having the run game working. "Especially in the road games, you want to be able to wear down the defense, so you need to run the ball at them instead of being on your heels and pass protecting all the time."
Overall, the Vikings have registered three 100-yard plus rushing performances this season and, not surprisingly, Minnesota has won them all. It's only victory in a game without a 100-yard output came in the opener at Washington when Taylor finished with 88 yards.
In their losses, the Vikings totaled 97 yards against Chicago and 63 yards against Buffalo. Taylor's adjustment to the Vikings' version of the West Coast offense is one likely reason for the continued improvement.
Another is the fact the offensive line appears to be coming together after adding two new guards (Artis Hicks and Steve Hutchinson) and get center Matt Birk back from an injury that kept him out all of last season.
"I think that they've improved," Childress said of the run offense. "(We) probably didn't give it enough of a chance in the Buffalo game, but I think when we have the attempts we've gotten better. I think they are understanding some of the things we're doing schematically a little bit better, both the running backs, the tight ends and for sure the offensive line."