If the opponent’s red zone is a blackjack table, the Vikings are on a heater.
But they are making their own luck inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, from where they have scored nine touchdowns in nine trips dating to Oct. 29 vs. Cleveland. That includes two TDs in two red-zone trips during Sunday’s 24-7 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
“I think you have to give [offensive coordinator Pat] Shurmur some credit,” left tackle Riley Reiff said. “Everybody is doing their job. He’s putting together some good play calls and we’re executing right.”
Even while winning six of their first eight games, the Vikings entered the bye week as one of the league’s most ineffective red-zone offenses. They are now a top-10 producer near the goal line, per Football Outsiders, just three weeks removed from ranking 27th in touchdown efficiency inside the 20-yard line.
There would be no better game for the Vikings to continue such streak than Thursday at Detroit. The Vikings have failed to put up 17 points during a three-game losing streak to the Lions.
They have scored at least 20 points throughout the six-game winning streak.
“We’ve got to continue to do that because that’s crucial,” Reiff said.
Foot ‘held up well’
Defensive end Everson Griffen’s eight-game streak with at least one sack came to an end Sunday, but the Vikings’ top pass rusher said his foot “held up well” while playing 45 snaps against the Rams.
“And it’s only going to get better,” Griffen said. “Nobody likes an injured Everson. I’m very grouchy.”
Nursing injuries won’t be easy this week with only three days between games. The Vikings didn’t practice Monday, but they issued a simulated injury report that listed Griffen as limited.
Ham stays prepared
Fullback C.J. Ham stayed busy Sunday for the Vikings offense, which beefed up the formations to include more tight ends and the fullback. Tight end David Morgan saw a career-high 40 snaps and Ham helped convert two goal-line touchdown runs while playing 19 snaps, three shy of his career high.
Ham sometimes plays as few as three snaps in a game, but when he’s in, he’s leading the way.
“Regardless of how many reps I get in practice or a game, I just have to make sure I do my job every single time,” said Ham, who also had three carries for 8 yards. “I never know when my number is going to be called, but I have to make sure I’m prepared throughout the whole week and ready to go.”
Harris on alert
Safety Anthony Harris’ phone was a little busier on Sunday night after he led the Vikings in tackles and made the “play of the game,” as declared by linebacker Anthony Barr, when he forced a Rams fumble at the goal line.
“I had quite a few people texting me,” Harris said. “Just congratulations on the win, good performance. Sending me different videos and photos and stuff.”
On a short week, Harris might start again for Andrew Sendejo, who has been out because of groin and hamstring injuries. The Vikings will hold one full practice Tuesday before departing Wednesday for Detroit. Sendejo was listed as limited on Monday’s injury report.
On the mend
It’s a simulated injury report and both could participate Tuesday when the team actually practices, but the Vikings didn’t think either cornerback Xavier Rhodes (calf) or right tackle Mike Remmers (concussion) would have been able to practice Monday.
Rhodes left Sunday’s game after apparently straining his left calf in the first half. He returned and played 45 snaps, or three-fourths of the game. Remmers has not played since suffering the concussion Oct. 29 against the Browns.