Zimmer offers directions for road win
EDEN PRAIRIE -- The Vikings are rolling, but now they're also hitting the road, where most of Minnesota's winning streaks have taken a detour in recent seasons.
EDEN PRAIRIE - The Vikings are rolling, but now they’re also hitting the road, where most of Minnesota’s winning streaks have taken a detour in recent seasons.
Since the start of the 2013 season, the Vikings are 2-15-1 on the road.
Coach Mike Zimmer is 2-8 since taking over last season. The feeling around the team is now might be the time for some road celebrations as the Vikings head to Detroit (1-5) this week to face a Lions team they beat in Week 2 and then Chicago (2-4) next week.
A couple of NFC North wins would move the Vikings to 5-2 and most likely make the second half of the season a two-team race with the undefeated Packers, whom the Vikings play twice in the final seven weeks.
So what is the key to winning on the road in this particular case? Zimmer simmered it down to at least two biggies.
“Probably start fast would be a good one,” he said. “I think we’ve started fast at home (3-0) pretty good. I think if we will continue to start fast, I think that helps.
“But again, handling the crowd noise, making sure we don’t turn the ball over.”
“We’ve got to protect the quarterback better than what we’ve done on the road,” Zimmer added.
That last one should probably be the first one.
In three home games, Teddy Bridgewater has been sacked three times. But in road losses to San Francisco and Denver, Bridgewater was sacked 12 times.
The Vikings have a few things going for them heading to Ford Field. They learned a lesson on how to finish off an NFL game on Sunday when their 13-0 lead became a wobbly 16-10 victory over the Chiefs. And they dominated the Lions 26-16 at home in Week 2.
In that Week 2 victory, Adrian Peterson ran for 134 yards on 29 carries (4.6 yards per carry), while the one-dimensional Lions abandoned the run with only 16 carries for 38 yards (2.4). Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford took a thorough beating that left him gasping for air and getting X-rays on his ribs and chest after the game.
Stafford was sacked only once, but was knocked down eight more times and hit twice while running out of bounds. The second hit out of bounds drew a personal foul on linebacker Anthony Barr and was one of the plays that Lions receiver Golden Tate referred to a day later when he accused the Vikings of taking cheap shots.
The Vikings haven’t won at Chicago since 2007, but that is a concern for the cupboard.
Right now, they’re starting to sound like a team desperate for a road victory to further their development as a program and to shut up reporters who are starting to bring up the road record every time the team hits the road.
“You have to win on the road to reach the playoffs,” receiver Mike Wallace said. “We know that. I learned that in Pittsburgh (7-1 on the road en route to the Super Bowl in 2010). We just have to go get the job done.”
Series history: 109th regular-season meeting. Vikings lead series, 70-36-2. The Vikings are 31-22-1 on the road against the Lions, but lost. In Week 2 at TCF Bank Stadium, the Vikings ran for 199 yards - 134 by Adrian Peterson - while stopping the run and harassing quarterback Matthew Stafford throughout a 26-16 victory. Last year at Ford Field, the
Vikings led 14-0, but two Teddy Bridgewater interceptions helped the Lions come back and win 16-14.