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Glimmer of hope: Vikings' running game improved vs. Lions

DETROIT -- The good news? The Vikings nearly doubled their rushing average on Thursday. Minnesota entered their 16-13 loss at Detroit's Ford Field averaging just 2.7 yards a carry, and on pace for the worst season average 1953 New York Giants man...

Nov 24, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Matt Asiata (44) celebrates after a touchdown during the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 24, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Matt Asiata (44) celebrates after a touchdown during the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

DETROIT - The good news? The Vikings nearly doubled their rushing average on Thursday.

Minnesota entered their 16-13 loss at Detroit's Ford Field averaging just 2.7 yards a carry, and on pace for the worst season average 1953 New York Giants managed just 2.6. But the Vikings carried 16 times for 82 yards on Thursday, averaging 5.1 yards a carry.

"I thought there were some positives in the running game," quarterback Sam Bradford said. "It was better. We were more efficient. So, hopefully that is something that can continue and we can build on that."

Actually, it was a wide receiver who really boosted the average. Late in the third quarter, Cordarrelle Patterson took a double reverse 22 yards, leading to Kai Forbath's 28-yard field goal and a 13-10 lead.

"He made a great run," Bradford said. "I feel like if you can just get the ball in his hands, he can make something like that happen. I thought that was a great play call by (interim offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur) to bring that out then."

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Among running backs, Matt Asiata had 27 yards on five attempts, but Jerick McKinnon gained 31 yards on nine carries. Overall, the Vikings didn't rush for much more than their 70-yard average before Thursday, last in the NFL.

On defense, the Vikings didn't stop the run as well as they had hoped. After gaining just 14 yards on 21 carries in their previous game against Jacksonville, the Lions ran for 94 yards on 19 carries, a 4.9 average.

Theo Riddick gained 45 yards on nine carries, and quarterback Matt Stafford hurt the Vikings when he got out of the pocket for 30 on four attempts. Eagan native Zach Zenner had one carry, but didn't get another the rest of the game after he was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-1 in the second quarter.

"Our job is to stop the run (so) you have to pass it," defensive end Linval Joseph said.

They raised their yards-per-carry average to 2.8 and are trying to avoid being the first team since the 1994 New England Patriots (2.8) to average less than three yards a carry for an entire season.

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