St. Louis at Minnesota

Vikings one game out of lead after topping Rams

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
  •  

MINNEAPOLIS -- Brad Johnson isn't surprised by anything the Minnesota Vikings' defense does anymore.

"Our defense is playing unbelievable and that's what's expected of those guys," Johnson said following a 27-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.

It's been a long, long time since such high expectations have been bestowed upon this defense, which has amazingly thrust the Vikings back into contention for the NFC North title.

The Vikings forced six turnovers and held Steven Jackson to 67 yards rushing in their sixth consecutive victory.

With Chicago (9-4) losing at Pittsburgh, the Vikings (8-5) pulled within one game of the division lead in a season that appeared lost after a 2-5 start. And the Bears still have to come to town on the final Sunday of the season.

"It is hard not to look ahead," receiver Koren Robinson said. "You just have to stay focused and understand that if we don't handle our business, regardless of what the Bears do, we're going to miss the playoffs."

Playoffs?!

Even mentioning that word would have been ludicrous six weeks ago, when the Vikings appeared to be spiraling out of control with myriad mistakes on the field and an embarrassing boat party scandal off it.

That was before the defense, with five new starters, started coming together. Now that it has, the wins just keep on coming.

"I think we're jelling," said cornerback Brian Williams. "Everybody's just putting it together and figuring out what our defense is all about."

Vikings defenders have long held starring roles in highlight reels for the "Greatest Show on Turf," allowing an average of 47 points and 456 yards in three straight losses to the Rams.

Williams led the way with two interceptions as the Vikings confused and battered rookie quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was 26-of-44 for 235 yards and five interceptions for the fading Rams (5-8).

"It was a disappointing game," Fitzpatrick said. "I made some mistakes and it seemed like every time I made a mistake, they capitalized on it."

Behind quarterbacks Kurt Warner and Marc Bulger, the Rams scored 137 points in routes in 2003 and 2000 and an NFC divisional playoff win after the 1999 season.

Bulger (shoulder) has missed the last three games and Fitzpatrick clearly is not in that class. He made several poor decisions, including throwing a ball right to Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield deep in Rams territory with less than 2 minutes to play in the first half.

That set up Paul Edinger's second field goal and gave the Vikings a 13-6 halftime lead.

"He didn't have a very good day today," Rams interim coach Joe Vitt said of Fitzpatrick. "I thought the protection was good. I thought his ball was sailing on his outs."

Robinson, Michael Bennett and Ciatrick Fason all scored touchdowns on the ground for the Vikings, who have been conservative and efficient during their turnaround, all with Johnson starting for injured Daunte Culpepper at quarterback.

Johnson was 16-for-25 for 146 yards, once again avoiding the costly mistakes that so plagued Culpepper early in the season.

Fitzpatrick tied the game at 13 with a 14-yard TD run early in the third quarter, but the Vikings' defense shut out the Rams the rest of the way and is allowing just 15.5 points a game during the winning streak.

The Rams crumbled under the pressure, making mistake after mistake to lose for the fourth time in five games.

In the third quarter, Bruce stumbled out of his break, and Fitzpatrick's pass went right into the arms of Williams, who returned it to the Rams 21 to setup Fason's 1-yard plunge and a 27-13 lead.

Fitzpatrick fumbled the snap on third-and-3 from the Vikings 37 on the ensuing possession, and Rex Tucker had a false start as the Rams lined up to go for it on fourth-and-6, forcing a punt.

Kevin Curtis also dropped a pass in the end zone with 3 minutes to go that would have pulled the Rams within a touchdown.

Isaac Bruce had five catches for 66 yards to move past Hall of Famer Charlie Joiner for 10th place in NFL history with 12,181 yards. He also caught his 800th career pass in the game.

Torry Holt had 10 catches for 95 yards.

Notes

  • Rex Tucker started in place of the injured Alex Barron (thumb) at RT for the Rams.
  • Holt passed Henry Ellard for second in team history with 602 catches.
  • Robinson's score was the just the fourth rushing TD by a receiver in franchise history and the first since Anthony Carter ran for one against Tampa Bay on Nov. 8, 1992.
  • Vikings LB Keith Newman left in the second quarter with a sprained right knee and did not return.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
Vikings WR Koren Robinson beats LB Pisa Tinoisamoa to the end zone on a 13-yard reverse.
 
Vikings WR Koren Robinson beats LB Pisa Tinoisamoa to the end zone on a 13-yard reverse. (AP)
 

 

Latest Video

Sun. Dec. 11Final
067013
7614027
Scoring Summary
1ST QUARTER
TDKoren Robinson, 13 Yd run (Paul Edinger kick is good), 5:36. Drive: 8 plays, 80 yards in 4:22.
2ND QUARTER
FGJeff Wilkins 51 Yd, 6:54. Drive: 7 plays, 19 yards in 2:38.
FGPaul Edinger 37 Yd, 4:52. Drive: 5 plays, 20 yards in 2:02.
FGPaul Edinger 44 Yd, 0:59. Drive: 4 plays, 2 yards in 0:19.
FGJeff Wilkins 23 Yd, 0:00. Drive: 5 plays, 70 yards in 0:59.
3RD QUARTER
TDRyan Fitzpatrick, 14 Yd run (Jeff Wilkins kick is good), 10:42. Drive: 6 plays, 49 yards in 2:38.
TDMichael Bennett, 7 Yd run (Paul Edinger kick is good), 8:05. Drive: 5 plays, 80 yards in 2:37.
TDCiatrick Fason, 1 Yd run (Paul Edinger kick is good), 3:11. Drive: 4 plays, 21 yards in 1:50.
4TH QUARTER
None
Players of the Game

M. Bennett
Rush 18
Yds 70
Avg 3.9
TD 1

T. Holt
Rec 10
Yds 95
Avg 9.5
TD 0
 
St. Louis
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
R. Fitzpatrick26/4523505
RushingATTYDSTDLG
S. Jackson196708
M. Faulk525010
R. Fitzpatrick516114
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
T. Holt1095017
I. Bruce566020
M. Faulk432013
S. McDonald218011
K. Curtis21309
B. Manumaleuna1606
M. Hedgecock2504
Minnesota
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
B. Johnson16/2514600
RushingATTYDSTDLG
M. Bennett1870115
C. Fason61918
K. Robinson214113
T. Williamson111011
M. Moore1000
B. Johnson1-10-1
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
M. Robinson149049
N. Burleson220012
J. Wiggins318012
K. Robinson115015
T. Williamson112012
J. Kleinsasser21109
T. Taylor1808
M. Moore1707
M. Bennett4603
Complete Player Stats
Other Games
NO 17 Final
ATL 36
DET 13 Final
GB 16
MIA 23 Final
SD 21
BAL 10 Final
DEN 12
KC 28 Final
DAL 31
SF 3 Final
SEA 41
NYG 26 Final
PHI 23
WAS 17 Final
ARI 13
HOU 10 Final
TEN 13
CHI 9 Final
PIT 21
OAK 10 Final
NYJ 26
IND 26 Final
JAC 18
CLE 20 Final
CIN 23
TB 20 Final
CAR 10
NE 35 Final
BUF 7