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Koetter: Vikings hit on Brate should have been a penalty

Koetter: Vikings hit on Brate should have been a penalty
It's little consolation, but Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said the Vikings' hit on tight end Cameron Brate as he caught a touchdown Sunday should have been a penalty, and said the official even told him he missed the call.

Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo hit Brate in the back of the head after he caught a pass from Winston for the team's first touchdown, but no flag was thrown.

"Yes, it should have been a penalty, and the official told me afterwards that he just flat missed it and he saw it on the replay," Koetter said Monday. "I appreciate his honesty. I was asking him about it. It looked like it to everybody that was watching it, and of course, Cam thought it was. The official came right over and said he missed it when he saw it on the replay."

Brate said after the game that he was fine and even "felt good," and Koetter said he is not in the league's concussion protocol. Sendejo went on to intercept one Winston pass and get his helmet on another for a deflection that would be another interception in the fourth quarter.

Vikings offense steals the show again with balanced blowout

Case Keenum took the shotgun snap for Minnesota on the third play of the game and dropped back in a clean pocket, with no pressure from Tampa Bay in sight.

After Adam Thielen used a double move to gain a step on Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, Keenum let the ball fly up the left seam. Hargreaves tried to thwart the play by pulling back Thielen's right arm, but Keenum's throw was in the perfect spot.

Thielen tracked the ball over his shoulder and hauled it in with his opposite arm for a 45-yard gain. The Vikings scored on Dalvin Cook's first career touchdown run four plays later and cruised to a 34-17 victory on Sunday.

"To be able to do that early and get points on the board the first drive right out the gates," Keenum said. "I think that helps everybody."

Lately it's been the other way around in Minnesota.

The defense in four seasons under coach Mike Zimmer has been the unquestioned strength of the team, but in two decisive wins at home this season the offense was the unit that stole the show.

"Coach Zim says it all the time: He doesn't necessarily want this to be a defensive organization," tight end Kyle Rudolph said. "But we're better now because we've practiced against those guys all offseason ... and every day in practice."

The Vikings finished last in the NFL in rushing last season, making Sam Bradford's job more difficult without a way to lure more defenders closer to the line and thus open throwing lanes down the field.

 but his accuracy was aided by being forced to settle for shorter,[url=http://www.giantscheapstore.com/landon-collins-jersey-cheap]Authentic Landon Collins Jersey[/url],He set the all-time record for completion percentage, safer throws.

 Rudolph and Stefon Diggs proved to be capable route-runners and pass-catchers when Bradford had time to find them, but more often than not he was under pressure behind a patched-together,[url=http://www.giantscheapstore.com/brandon-marshall-jersey-cheap]Authentic Brandon Marshall Jersey[/url],Thielen, leaky offensive line.

 the Vikings needed to fix that front five,First,[url=http://www.giantscheapstore.com/evan-engram-jersey-cheap]Authentic Evan Engram Jersey[/url], and with a new starter in each spot the revamped group has so far worked well.

 after Bradford was ruled out with an ailing left knee,Pittsburgh put plenty of pressure on Keenum in the loss on Sept. 17, but the Steelers employ an aggressive scheme that can be hard to diagnose.

 when Bradford was ruled out two days before kickoff,[url=http://www.giantscheapstore.com/dalvin-tomlinson-jersey-cheap]Authentic Dalvin Tomlinson Jersey[/url],Behind play calling by offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur that was tailor-made for the more-mobile Keenum against the Buccaneers, the Vikings were rolling from the start.

 and the plan that they have each week is good," Zimmer said. "But it is three weeks. We usually don't look at stats until Thanksgiving,"They're doing a really nice job. They're executing,[url=http://www.giantscheapstore.com/davis-webb-jersey-cheap]Womens Davis Webb Jersey[/url], so we still have a long way to go."

Let's look anyway.

 respectively,Thielen (299 yards) and Diggs (293 yards) are second and third in the league in receiving, behind Pittsburgh star Antonio Brown.

 behind New England and Green Bay and ahead of New Orleans. That's exclusive company with Tom Brady's Patriots,The Vikings are third in the NFL in passing yards, Aaron Rodgers' Packers and Drew Brees' Saints.

Cook has 288 yards rushing, the most in Vikings history in a rookie's first three games. That's also good for second in the NFL behind Kansas City rookie Kareem Hunt. Cook also had 72 yards receiving against the Buccaneers.

 from accelerating through a hole to bouncing off tacklers for extra yards to picking up a blitz to catching the ball out of the backfield,His all-around ability, has transformed this offense.

" Thielen said,"It's great to have a guy like that on your side, "because it just opens up the whole playbook."

Lid pops off Vikings' offense with deep balls, big catches now in play

 Case Keenum took a seven-step drop out of a pistol set, took one look downfield and lofted a deep sideline throw for Adam Thielen,On the Vikings’ third play from scrimmage on Sunday, who’d already gained a step on Tampa Bay Buccaneers corner Vernon Hargreaves.

 as the wide receiver tracked the ball over his right shoulder. The contact didn’t draw a flag,It was all Hargreaves could do to swat at Thielen’s right arm, but it didn’t matter: Thielen hauled the pass in with his left arm as he slid to the ground.

” Thielen said. “It’s great for a receiver when you have time to adjust to a football, and obviously,“Case did a great job of just giving me an opportunity to run underneath the ball, it hits you in stride.”

The play came early enough in the game to likely be one of the calls the Vikings had scripted for their first series. It also served as a reminder that the reports of the demise of the Vikings’ vertical passing game are greatly exaggerated.

 when the Vikings’ best way to mitigate their offensive line issues was to have Sam Bradford quickly unload what amounted to a long handoff? The 2017 Vikings, at least in the first three weeks of the season,Remember last year, have few traces of that in their offense.

 they’ve gone the other way: According to Pro Football Focus, the Vikings’ two quarterbacks (Bradford and Keenum) are tied for the third-most attempts of 20 yards or more in the first three weeks of the season,In fact, with 17. Their combined number of completions (10) is the second-most in the NFL, trailing only Tom Brady.

” Keenum said Sunday. “Every week he does a great job communicating the game plan. For me in particular, [it’s] knowing why he’s calling plays and where he wants to take shots,“I thought [offensive coordinator] Pat [Shurmur] did a great job,[url=http://www.giantscheapstore.com/landon-collins-jersey-cheap]Womens Landon Collins Jersey[/url], where he wants to be careful with the football, and what we’re trying to do as an offensive scheme as a whole.

 except when I over-think things and it doesn’t work out. I thought Pat did a great job mixing up the run and the pass, run-action,[url=http://www.giantscheapstore.com/brandon-marshall-jersey-cheap]Womens Brandon Marshall Jersey[/url],“I thought we were on the same page most of the night, play-action, and I thought he did a great job.”

The Vikings entered the season hopeful they could broaden their offensive repertoire beyond the diet of short throws they used so often in 2016,[url=http://www.giantscheapstore.com/evan-engram-jersey-cheap]Womens Evan Engram Jersey[/url], both because they couldn’t run the ball effectively and because the quick passes helped Bradford find a target before he was pressured.

 they figured,[url=http://www.giantscheapstore.com/davis-webb-jersey-cheap]Authentic Davis Webb Jersey[/url], they could also put themselves in more situations to throw deep off play action. Keenum’s 47-yard strike to Diggs in the second quarter on Sunday came out of a two-back set,Their chief focus in signing tackles Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers this offseason was to upgrade a run game that ranked 32nd in the league a year ago. But as the Vikings found ways to run the ball more effectively, after Keenum faked a handoff to Latavius Murray and hit the wide receiver on a post route beyond Buccaneers defensive back Ryan Smith.

 according to Pro Football Focus,[url=http://www.giantscheapstore.com/wayne-gallman-jersey-cheap]Womens Wayne Gallman Jersey[/url],Keenum hit seven of his 11 throws for 137 yards when he had more than 2.5 seconds to throw, and the Vikings’ ability to give their quarterbacks time to throw has made the deep shots possible. The play of Diggs and Thielen — two receivers who might be underappreciated as vertical threats — has given the Vikings reason to keep looking their way.

 the more comfortable they feel throwing them, putting those in the game plan,[url=http://www.giantscheapstore.com/wayne-gallman-jersey-cheap]Authentic Wayne Gallman Jersey[/url],“The more plays you make on those, things like that,” Thielen said. “And [it’s] probably on the offensive line: that shows a lot of trust in them to give us a little bit of time to get downfield.”

 Thielen and Diggs are second and third in the NFL in receiving yards, respectively. The Vikings could have another downfield option available to them in a week,[url=http://www.giantscheapstore.com/dalvin-tomlinson-jersey-cheap]Womens Dalvin Tomlinson Jersey[/url],As the Vikings have opened up their passing game, when Michael Floyd returns from a four-game suspension.

 but it’s also a significant difference from the past two seasons,It’s still a far cry from the best days of Culpepper-to-Moss, when the Vikings’ quick game was their best option for keeping Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater upright. Through three games — and two quarterbacks — it’s becoming clear the label of a staid passing attack no longer fits the Vikings.

“Those guys are doing a good job making plays and catching the football,” running back Dalvin Cook said. “We’ve got playmakers at wideout; we’ve just got to get the ball to them.”