The Vikings can check two boxes with a win Sunday against the New York Giants: bounce back from a bad loss at Chicago and win their first road game of the season.
Minnesota (2-2) lost last weekend in Chicago, 16-6, and at Green Bay, 21-16, in Week 2. They haven’t won a road game since Dec. 23 at Detroit, 27-9, and had lost the previous three.
“One thing we’ve seriously stressed this morning from Coach (Mike Zimmer) is being able to prove we can win on the road, be able to go out and play our brand of football no matter where it is,” defensive lineman Stephen Weatherly said Wednesday.
The Vikings fell behind Green Bay 21-0, and trailed the Bears 16-0 before scoring a touchdown in the closing minutes.
Zimmer’s 2017 team started the season 5-0 in road games before finishing 6-2 away from U.S. Bank Stadium; the Vikings went 13-3 in the regular season and advanced to the NFC Championship at Philadelphia, a 38-7 loss to the Eagles.
Since that five-game winning streak, the Vikings are 4-8-1 on the road including the playoff loss.
“It’s about fine-tuning and getting dialed in and being locked in and being focused because more than anything on the road, it’s about the finer details,” Weatherly said. “You don’t have home-field advantage and (it’s difficult) to communicate on third down. Third down is a crucial passing down, especially for the offense.
“So, the defense, we’ve got to create momentum, and if they have it, we’ve got to take it away. So that’s the difficult part.”
The Vikings were 3-4-1 on the road last season, which ended with an 8-7-1 record and no playoff berth.
Taking a pass
The Vikings will be in the New York metropolitan area this weekend as the Twins open the playoffs at Yankee Stadium. But don’t expect Mike Zimmer to zip up to the Bronx and watch.
“Are they playing?” he asked Thursday.
Game 1 of the American League Division Series is Friday night, Game 2 on Saturday afternoon.
“I did know they’re in the playoffs,” he said, “but I didn’t know the playoffs had started yet.”
Obviously, Zimmer has been focused on his own team. The Vikings will play the Giants at noon Sunday at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey’s Meadowlands Sports Complex. Certainly an NFL head coach could get in for Game 2 on Saturday, at least.
“No,” Zimmer said. “I won’t make that.”
Cornerback Mackensie Alexander has been ruled out of Sunday’s game after missing his second straight practice with a groin injury. He practiced on Wednesday in a limited capacity.
Asked how that would affect the defense against the Giants, Zimmer said, “It doesn’t.”
Alexander already has missed two games because of a dislocated elbow. He returned last weekend as the nickel back, making three solo tackles in 39 defensive plays against the Bears.
Alexander and linebacker Kentrell Brothers (hamstring/wrist) were the only Vikings players declared out on Friday’s final injury report. Guard Josh Kline, who missed last Sunday’s game because of a concussion, was a full participant the past two practices.
The Giants declared running back Saquon Barkley out because of a high ankle sprain suffered in a 32-31 loss at Tampa Bay on Sept. 22. Barkley gained more than 100 yards rushing in New York’s first two games. Starting linebacker Alec Ogletree (hamstring) and backup Tea Davis (concussion) also will not play for the Giants.