The Vikings’ third-ranked run defense leads the NFL in fewest runs of 10 yards or more allowed. And it’s not even close.
The Vikings have given up only nine of them heading into Sunday’s game at Washington. The Titans are second at 15.
“I think it was a big key for us, an emphasis for us in the offseason and training camp,” said defensive end Brian Robison. “Just making sure we stop the run. We’ve definitely been much better at it so far this season.”
The Vikings have had three games in which they haven’t allowed a 10-yard run. The Saints and Packers had long runs of 9 yards; the Buccaneers didn’t have a run longer than 4.
Washington ranks tied for 21st in rushing. It has only two runs longer than 20 yards.
Explosive runs rising
Meanwhile, the Vikings offense ranks third in runs of 20 or more yards. They have nine of them, three more than they had all last season. The Eagles lead the way with 12, while Kansas City has 10.
“The [linemen] are blocking their guys well, and they’re working well together,” offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. “And then the runners are doing a good job of playing with vision. We certainly have a core set of runs that we run. And then every game, we have a few game-plan runs that we try to employ.”
The emergence of a running game has contributed to the Vikings already posting twice as many scoring drives of 80 or more yards this year (eight) than they had last year.
Griffen, Remmers still out
Two starters, defensive end Everson Griffen (foot) and right tackle Mike Remmers (concussion), didn’t practice for the second consecutive day. But coach Mike Zimmer said after practice that he expects Griffen, the team sacks leader, to play Sunday.
Meanwhile, receiver Stefon Diggs was added to the injury report because of a tooth problem. He was limited.
Guard Jeremiah Sirles (knee) didn’t practice again. Limited were safety Anthony Harris (hamstring) and defensive end Stephen Weatherly (knee).
Starting left guard Nick Easton, who has missed three consecutive games because of a calf injury, had full participation for the second day in a row.
Active picks leaders
Vikings Hall of Fame safety Paul Krause retired in 1979 with 81 interceptions that still stands as the NFL career record.
Sunday, his two former teams, the Vikings and Redskins, face off in a game that will feature the NFL’s two active leaders in interceptions. Washington’s DeAngelo Hall, 33, has 43 interceptions, while the Vikings’ Terence Newman has 41. Neither has a pick this season, and Hall has played only one game since coming off the physically-unable-to-perform list.
Together, they’ve played 29 seasons in a pass-happy era. And yet together they have only three more picks than Krause finished with 38 years ago.
“It is a tough number to beat,” Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards said. “It really is a tough number to beat. We just keep plugging away at it. Getting turnovers this week will be huge. … [Washington] fumbles the ball a lot but they have not thrown a lot of interceptions [four].”
LT’s bye-week focus
Receiver Laquon Treadwell spent more time thinking about football during this year’s bye week than he did a year ago.
“Last year, I got out of here … took a break, but this year, I stayed here,” Treadwell said. “And I saw a lot of other guys staying here. I think that’s the difference from this year and last year: A lot of guys stayed around.
“They didn’t really hit the road; just kind of watched more film, just recovered more and did other things to get themselves ready for this Sunday.”