ST. LOUIS – The Vikings offensive line couldn't have been handed a much toughest test on the first day of school. But thanks to their strong play and a clever game plan, the big guys up front aced it.
The St. Louis Rams ranked third in the NFL in sacks last season and All-Pro defensive end Robert Quinn was second in the league individually with 19. But left tackle Matt Kalil, whom Quinn usually lined up across from, and the Vikings offensive line allowed just one sack in Sunday's 34-6 victory.
"They stepped up to the challenge," quarterback Matt Cassel said. "They were one of the league leaders in sacks last year and I think we gave up one sack all day. That's a testament to those guys. I think they work well together. They work hard throughout the week. I was really excited that they played the way that they did and they were able to manage that rush."
Quinn crushed Cassel during one first-quarter incompletion, but for the most part, the Vikings were able to neutralize Quinn and the Rams' three other former first-round picks along the defensive line with shorter routes, quicker throws and the threat of pre-snap motion.
And when the offensive linemen had to hold their blocks a little longer, they usually did.
"Our offensive line played very well against a very good defensive front," head coach Mike Zimmer said. "I thought we protected well. I think we had a good plan going into the ballgame and it worked out."
Rhodes, Floyd hurt
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes injured his groin in the third quarter. He briefly returned on the next series then was pulled from the game for good. Cornerback Josh Robinson replaced him in the base defense and rookie Jabari Price was the third corner in the nickel package.
"They said they don't believe it's too bad," Zimmer said after speaking with the medical staff.
Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd injured his shoulder late in the fourth quarter. He was initially concerned he might have suffered a major injury, but after the game he said he expects to be fine beyond some soreness today.
Cornerback Josh Robinson also left the game in the final defensive series because of an apparent leg injury.
Griffen gets two
Defensive end Everson Griffen was sidelined Thursday and Friday by an illness that prompted the Vikings to list him as questionable on the final injury report. But Griffen not only suited up against the Rams, but he started and made an impact with a pair of sacks.
"Unfortunately, I was sick for a couple, but I love the game of football and love my teammates," Griffen said. "There was no way I was missing this first game."
Quiet day for All Day
Running back Adrian Peterson had a quiet day by his perennial Pro Bowl standards, rushing for 75 yards on 21 carries. But including wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson's 67-yard touchdown run, the Vikings as a team averaged 6.2 yards per carry.
"We knew we were going up against a good defense, especially a good front line," Peterson said. "Our guys up front didn't back down and we continued to hit them in the mouth. We were able to be effective in the run game and be balanced as an offense."
Road skid ends
The Vikings were 0-7-1 on the road last season — not including their neutral-site win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in London last September — before beating the Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday. Their last regular-season road win was Week 16 of the 2012 season, when they beat the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium.
"I've said all along if you play smart football [with] good techniques and good fundamentals and take care of the football, you can go out in the parking lot and look good," Zimmer said. "It's more about how you play than where you play."
•Zimmer thought that Cassel, who completed 17 of his 25 attempts for 170 yards and two touchdowns, was solid in the win. "The way we played on defense, we could be a little more conservative with what we did on offense," Zimmer said. "They're not all going to be like that."
•Kicker Blair Walsh, who missed his final three field-goal attempts from 50 yards or beyond in 2013 and two more during the preseason, split the uprights from 52 yards during the first quarter. Walsh also connected from 46 yards.
•Safety Harrison Smith's 81-yard interception return for a touchdown was the third interception return TD of his career, tying him with eight other players for the franchise's record.