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Zimmer says numerous ways to pressure QBs

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn.--The Vikings don't always need a gaudy sack total to rattle the opposing quarterback. They entered Monday night averaging an NFL-best five sacks per game. They didn't get any in a 24-10 win over the New York Giants at U.S. Ban...

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) throws as he's pressured by Vikings defensive lineman Danielle Hunter during the second quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on Monday night. Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) throws as he's pressured by Vikings defensive lineman Danielle Hunter during the second quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on Monday night. Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn.-The Vikings don't always need a gaudy sack total to rattle the opposing quarterback.

They entered Monday night averaging an NFL-best five sacks per game. They didn't get any in a 24-10 win over the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium, but they sure affected Eli Manning.

Obviously wary of the pass rush, Manning threw mostly quick passes throughout the game. He rarely challenged Minnesota with long balls.

"There's numerous ways you can affect the quarterback,'' Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Tuesday. "Whether it's rush or coverage or disguise, but I think people respect our pass rushers and probably a little bit of our blitz package as well.''

Next up for 4-0 Minnesota on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium is Houston quarterback Brock Osweiler. It will be interesting to see what measures Osweiler, who has been sacked seven times in four games, uses to avoid hitting the ground too much against the Vikings.

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Manning completed 25 of 45 passes for 261 yards. That's an average gain per attempt of 5.8 yards, well below his seasonal mark of 8.6 entering the game.

It could have been even worse for Manning had he not gotten a 67-yard gain on a screen pass to running back Paul Perkins to open the fourth quarter. Take away that play, on which Perkins broke two tackles, and Manning had an average gain of 4.4 yards per pass attempt.

Manning didn't deny he "tried to get the ball out quickly" to avoid Minnesota's pass rush. That came with shorter drops than he usually has.

"He was dropping really short,'' said Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr. "Seven yards, and he's stepping up and getting the ball out. So I don't think that's really what he wants to do. He wants to be able to step back, scan the field and be able to throw the ball downfield, and we were able to limit that. That was a big key to success.''

Minnesota's defensive backs certainly helped, especially Xavier Rhodes. The cornerback shadowed Giants star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. plenty during the night, helping to hold him to three catches for 23 yards while being targeted nine times.

On one of the few occasions Manning dared to go deep against the Vikings, he overthrew Beckham in the third quarter. Rhodes picked off the pass and returned it 29 yards.

"(Rhodes) wasn't covering him one-on-one all night; it wasn't like that,'' Zimmer said. "He came out of the game some. (Terence) Newman went over there. Hopefully, we mix up the coverages that we played a little bit.''

Newman came up big when Manning tried to get another long ball to Beckham later in the third quarter. He provided strong coverage to force an incompletion on the left sideline.

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By holding the Giants to 10 points, the Vikings moved from No. 3 to No. 2 in the NFL in points allowed with a 12.5 average. They did drop, though, from No. 1 in sacks with 15 to No. 2 behind Denver, which has 17.

In the previous two games, Minnesota had five against Green Bay in Week 2 and eight at Carolina in Week 3.

There were no sack dances by the Vikings on Monday. Still, their defenders realize they don't always need them to impact the game.

"The key to it was obviously being able to get a good push and get around (Manning's) feet,'' said defensive end Brian Robison. "When you do those quick passes, you have to be able to run and tackle well.''

The Vikings generally did that. Still, Zimmer said there has been some shoddy tackling lately, including on the big play to Perkins.

"We missed some tackles the last two ball games to give up big plays that we have to correct or it's going to end up costing us,'' Zimmer said. "We've got to do better there.''

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