The Call: Vikings at St. Louis

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 15, 2012 - 5:57 PM
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St. Louis running back Steven Jackson has been a load. He’s just 71 yards shy of 10,000 for his career.

Photo: Matt Dunham, Associated Press

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One man's prediction: Vikings 23, St. Louis 21 The Vikings might be 5-17 on the road since 2010. But the Rams haven't enjoyed a four-game winning streak since 2003, when their offense was propelled by Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce and Marc Bulger. Taking care of the ball will be key. But the Vikings, precariously perched at 7-6, will keep their playoff hopes alive.

Rush hour

For all the justifiable praise Adrian Peterson has received, it's Rams back Steven Jackson who's the NFL's active career rushing leader, just 71 yards shy of 10,000. As St. Louis fans keep track of that chase, Peterson has his eyes on a 2,000-yard season, with Rams coach Jeff Fisher believing he can get there. Fisher coached the last 2,000-yard rusher -- Chris Johnson in Tennessee in 2009. Of Peterson, Fisher said: "You're just not going to see anything like this. ... Finding a way to shut the run game down is virtually impossible."

 

Step forward

In Year 3, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford has shown noticeable growth, particularly with his confidence in late-game situations. During last week's game-winning drive in Buffalo -- Bradford's third winning march this season -- he went 5-for-11 for 68 yards, including a final-minute 13-yard TD toss to Brandon Gibson plus a key two-point conversion pass to Chris Givens. Said Jackson: "He has a calm confidence to him. In the fourth quarter and big game situations, you really see his talent take over."

 

Building up

Two big takeaways highlighted the Vikings' sturdy defensive effort in last week's victory over Chicago. But they also held the Bears to seven third-down conversions in 17 attempts and allowed only two scores in 12 possessions. Said Jared Allen: "I was encouraged by the way we stayed on top of them. We never really got into a situation where we were reeling." Retaining that edge on the road in St. Louis will be key.

THE BIG NUMBER: 39 Sacks by the Rams this season, second only to Cincinnati (42) through Week 14. Fourteen St. Louis players have recorded at least one sack. Robert Quinn leads the team with 9 1/2.

BREAKOUT DAY? Cortland Finnegan, Rams: One of the marquee cornerbacks on the 2012 free agent market, Finnegan is now the veteran leader of a young St. Louis secondary. The former Tennessee Titan could give Christian Ponder problems.

MANO-A-MANO: MATCHUP TO WATCH

Vikings rookie kicker Blair Walsh vs. Rams rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein

About Walsh Drafted 175th overall in April, he has 24 field goals and 99 points this season.

 

About Zuerlein Drafted 171st overall, he has 21 field goals and 82 points.

 

Who has the edge? Ah, yes, the battle of rookie kickers: The Blair Walsh Project vs. Legatron. It could decide the game. Walsh has been more accurate, making 88.8 percent of his field goal attempts compared with Zuerlein's 77.8 accuracy. Advantage: Walsh

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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
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Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
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