Following another round of comments from coach Mike Zimmer that the Vikings need to make a greater commitment to running the ball, offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said Friday he should have called runs in a couple key moments of the team's loss to the Patriots on Sunday.
The Vikings gained 95 yards on 13 rushing attempts against the Patriots, but only six of those attempts came in the second half. On Friday, DeFilippo said there were "two or three instances" when the Vikings threw the ball and should have run it instead, adding he "made that clear" to Zimmer when the two talked this week.
"It's just like anybody. I look to go out each week and improve myself," he said. "You're always self-evaluating yourself and looking for ways to get better."
The Vikings called seven runs to nine passes on first and second down in the first half, when DeFilippo said he thought the offense was well-balanced. On a first down from the Patriots' 22 in the third quarter, though, quarterback Kirk Cousins threw into the end zone after a Dalvin Cook run for 18 yards, instead of the Vikings sticking with the run, and they settled for a game-tying field goal instead of driving for a go-ahead touchdown.
This week, the Vikings are preparing to face a Seahawks team with a long-established trend of keeping eight defenders in the box and playing with three deep defenders — which has become more common around the league. As the Vikings try to win in Seattle, their offensive coordinator knows the idea of balance is still a moving target.
"Here's the way I view balance: To me, I think each game is different. I really do," he said. "Each way you attack an opponent is different. If you just go in with the same plan to attack an opponent each week, I don't think that's going to give you the best chance for success. … Each week is different. So balance to me is going to be different each week."
Cousins, Wilson dueled twice as Big Ten QBs
They've faced each other as starters just twice in the NFL, but from their one year in the Big Ten together, Kirk Cousins and Russell Wilson have enough memories against the other to last a lifetime.
Wilson transferred to Wisconsin for his final year after playing at North Carolina State, quarterbacking a loaded Badgers team in 2011 that had Montee Ball, James White and a young Melvin Gordon in its backfield. The Badgers were ranked No. 4 in the country and were harboring national championship hopes when they traveled to Spartan Stadium to face 15th-ranked Michigan State on Oct. 22, 2011.
The score was tied at 31 on the final play of regulation and appeared headed to overtime until Cousins uncorked a 44-yard Hail Mary that Keith Nichol caught off a deflection at the Badgers' 1. Nichol stretched for the end zone before he was pushed back, and a replay review overturned the call on the field, giving the Spartans a touchdown and a 37-31 win, knocking Wisconsin out of the national title picture.
Wisconsin did get to the Rose Bowl after a win in the rematch, though, defeating Michigan State 42-39 in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game. Wilson rolled to his left before hitting Jeff Duckworth for 36 yards on fourth down-and-8 with four minutes to go, setting up Ball's game-winning touchdown.
"They were all great games, in big part because of what he can do as a quarterback," Cousins said. "Certainly, two in college that were two of my more memorable games I ever played in. And then in the pros, we played in the playoffs — I didn't really play much — but played in the playoffs my rookie year, and then again in '14 on Monday night, and last year, and now again on Monday night. Hopefully, it can be another exciting one, and I'm excited to see what we can do."
•Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said Matt Wile was late onto the field during Dan Bailey's missed 48-yard field goal Sunday because the punter thought it was third down.
•Linebacker Eric Kendricks (ribs), cornerback Trae Waynes (concussion), tight end David Morgan (knee) and receiver Chad Beebe (hamstring) all missed practice for the second time this week.