Any football player will tell you that it’s hard to score a touchdown in the National Football League. But scoring three touchdowns in one game, especially as a non-quarterback?
That’s almost impossible.
Well, Vikings running back Matt Asiata did just that this past Sunday, rushing 20 times for 78 yards and three scores in a 41-28 win over the Falcons.
“It’s a blessing,” Asiata said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “It’s not only me. It’s everybody that’s blocking in front of me and Teddy (Bridgewater) just getting the ball to me. (I was) trying to pound it in there and help our team win.”
Asiata said the Vikings received a text from Adrian Peterson before the game.
“He (just told us to) play Viking football and do what we do and don’t let the distractions (get to us) and play hard-nosed football,” Asiata explained.
He and backfield running mate Jerick McKinnon did just that. McKinnon rushed 18 times for 135 yards (7.5 yards per carry).
“It sucks not having AP here, but we have him in spirit,” Asiata said. “(We’re) just trying to hold down the fort for him. We message each other every now and then about just going out there, playing football and being positive and don’t be distracted or anything. Our running back group is pretty tight. We just went out there, tried to punch them in the mouth from the get-go and that’s what we did – and we came out successful.”
Bridgewater was solid in the win, throwing for 317 yards and finishing without a turnover.
“He’s the same guy every time,” Asiata said. “Every day he comes in, he looks so calm, so poised, and that’s what he brought to the huddle. He called the plays nice and calm and confident. That’s what we like about him.”
Bridgewater also rushed five times for 27 yards and a score and kept several plays alive with his legs, ultimately converting first downs.
“That’s what we love about him,” Asiata said.
Bridgewater, however, sprained his left ankle against Atlanta, and his availability for Thursday night’s game at Green Bay is in question.
“We’ll see what the coaches want him to do or what Teddy wants to do,” Asiata said, “but I have no idea.”
What the Vikings can expect is another strong, cohesive performance from their running game. Asiata added that there’s no rivalry between him and McKinnon.
“It’s nothing like that,” Asiata said. “Our group is really tight, and Jerick had some great runs during Sunday’s game. He had the hot hand during the last drive. I gave him the chance to go out there and finish the game because he had the hot hand. He came out successful with the 100+ yards. That’s the unselfish kind of stuff we have in our room.”
Wait a second. Asiata actually deferred to McKinnon for playing time?
“He had the hot hand, man,” Asiata said. “I’m not that kind of guy. He finished strong for us and had a great game for us.”
Mike Zimmer, it seems, is okay with allowing his players to do what makes them comfortable.
“He’s a great coach,” Asiata said. “He demands high expectations with us. He just lets the players do what we do on the field, and that’s what we do. We went out here and dominated and came out with the W.”