Every week following the Access Vikings Gameplan Podcast,we'll delve deeper into who Andrew Krammer pegged as the potential difference maker for the upcoming game.
Alex Boone barreled into 306-pound Giants defensive tackle Jay Bromley and, with the help of center Joe Berger, created the push that finally produced the Vikings’ first rushing touchdown of the season.
Boone, the franchise’s $10 million left guard, put his best foot forward on Monday night. It was just his fourth game in Minnesota, but the 6-foot-8, tackle-sized guard provided the physical boost this offensive line had been missing.
With Boone’s help, the Vikings got the running game going for the first time. Jerick McKinnon’s 85 rushing yards marked a team high for the season and his fourth-quarter touchdown also came courtesy of Boone, among others, as he pulled to the right side and blocked middle linebacker Kelvin Sheppard to seal one side of the opening.
Entering Sunday’s matchup against the Houston Texans, the Vikings will need Boone to once again move mountains.
The Texansdo boast some of the league’s best defensive metrics, including No. 1 in pass defense and No. 2 on third downs. Though they’re just 28th against the run, allowing 4.6 yards per carry, and will be without star defensive end J.J. Watt, who underwent back surgery last week and will miss the rest of the season.
Some of the strongest parts of the Texans defense remain in the front seven, where veteran nose tackle Vince Wilfork, edge rusher Whitney Mercilus and towering inside linebackers Bernardrick McKinney (6-4) and Brian Cushing (6-3) await.
The Vikings have centered their running game on the interior, behind Boone, Berger and right guard Brandon Fusco, with injuries thinning the tackle and tight end positions. Two of the team’s best blocking tight ends, Rhett Ellison and David Morgan, have not practicedthis week due to knee injuries.
So they’ll need Boone to throw his 300 pounds around to make sure a vulnerable Vikings offense finds balance. A rushing average of 64.2 yards ranks last, though they could build on Monday night’s step in the right direction.
Intentions weren’t hidden at the Giants’ 1-yard line as the Vikings lined up with two tight ends, a fullback and Matt Asiata in the backfield. Asiata takes the counter handoff directly behind Boone, who spearheads the push.
On the second rushing touchdown, Boone pulls from left to right and seals the linebacker to create a crease for McKinnon.