Vikings' defense denies Falcons in emphatic road victory

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  • By Nick Shook NFL.com
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The Minnesota Vikings are a runaway train to the land of milk and honey. Don't get in their way, unless you want to fall victim to the cowcatcher's unmerciful plow into the glorious future.

OK, that might be a little hyperbolic. But the Vikings are very, very good. Sunday was the latest example of their ever-increasing supremacy in the NFC -- and after the Eagles' loss to the Seahawks on Sunday night, guess who's tied for the top seed in the conference.

Yep -- the guys in purple!!

They aren't the lone examples of greatness, nor are they the only individuals who are going to receive an honor (brought to you by Courtyard by Marriott). In order to find out, though, you're going to have to scroll down. Take your shoes off. Stay a while.

These are your greatest on the road from Week 13.

Greatest on the Road


Minnesota Vikings defense



The Atlanta Falcons entered Week 13 as one of the league's hotter teams in the last month, winning their last three and doing so in a fashion that was reminiscent of their run to Super Bowl LI. Matt Ryan averaged 242.3 passing yards and posted a 5-1 TD-to-INT ratio in that stretch. Atlanta scored 27, 34 and 34 points in the victories.

Then they ran into a brick wall.

Minnesota's second-ranked defense stifled Atlanta all afternoon, holding Ryan under 175 passing yards for the first time since Week 10 of 2013 (!!). The Falcons also failed to gain 100 yards between Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, just barely cracking the century mark thanks to only six yards between Ryan and Taylor Gabriel. The Falcons managed just nine points, on three Matt Bryant field goals (he missed his final attempt of the day with 5:04 left in the fourth quarter).

The leader of the Vikings' defense was Eric Kendricks, who recorded 10 total tackles (eight solo, two assisted). Anthony Barr and Xavier Rhodes chipped in with five tackles each. The combined effort produced yet another win for the Vikings, who continue to prove they can outscore you or simply squeeze the will out of your offense.


Also considered ...


Robbie Gould, San Francisco 49ers


Robbie Gould once had a role in a pretty great commercial that revolved around spiking things in celebration of life events -- except while every other person was spiking various items (toupees, suitcases, home phones, fragile packages), Gould kicked a football through a glass pane.

Typical kickers.

Gould, dressed in a Chicago Bears uniform in the commercial, is no longer a Bear, but an appropriately gold-helmeted (due to the name pun, y'know) San Francisco 49er. He got his revenge Sunday.

Behind the arm of franchise messiah Jimmy Garoppolo, the Niners moved deep into Chicago territory in the final two minutes of a one-score contest. Gould lined up and drilled the game-winning field goal as time expired at Soldier Field, sending the Niners home victorious and leaving Gould with a sweet win over his former employer.

Oh, and that field goal capped off a perfect 5-for-5 day for Gould, who scored all of San Francisco's points.

As for that commercial, Gould ends up spiking the sunglasses worn by the person who informed him he was doing it wrong. That field goal probably felt a lot like the sunglasses spike.


Rex Burkhead, New England Patriots


This honorable mention could go to Burkhead and Dion Lewis, but we're going to give the whole thing to Burkhead, thanks to his two trips to paydirt. The versatile back toted the ball 12 times for 78 yards (including a long run of 31 yards) and two scores in the 23-3 win over Buffalo. He added a little more to New England's offense in the passing game, catching three passes for 25 yards.

As the Patriots progress through the season, Burkhead seems to be only growing in his role within the offense. Sunday was one of his best performances as a Patriot, and when teamed with Lewis and James White, New England has plenty of viable threats coming out of the backfield. It's no wonder the Patriots' quarterback is leading the league in passing, and their team is tied for the league lead in wins.

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