ST. LOUIS (AP) — Wide receiver Cordarelle Patterson ran for 102 yards on three carries with a 67-yard scoring run off a simple pitchout and the Minnesota Vikings shut down the St. Louis Rams 34-6 on Sunday, opening impressively under new coach Mike Zimmer.
The Rams handled Adrian Peterson, limiting the All-Pro to 75 yards on 21 carries. They had zero luck with Patterson, who had three touchdowns rushing on 12 carries as a rookie last season.
Rams quarterback Shaun Hill lasted one half as the stand-in starter for Sam Bradford, missing the rest of the game with a thigh injury and leaving untested Austin Davis in charge. Hill’s last pass was intercepted by Josh Robinson with 1:09 to go in the half, setting up Matt Cassel’s 8-yard pass to Greg Jennings for a 13-0 lead.
Zimmer was a defensive coordinator with Dallas, Atlanta and Cincinnati the previous 14 seasons and inherited a team that went 5-10-1 last year. He had a defense that surrendered the most points NFL last year clicking from the start.
Patterson broke at least four tackles on the 67-yarder that put the Vikings up 20-3 late in the third quarter. He had carries of 23 and 12 yards in the first half and added three receptions for 26 yards.
Last year, Patterson returned two kickoffs for touchdowns and led the NFL with a 32.4-yard average.
The Vikings kept the Rams down in the second half with four of their five sacks, and Harrison Smith’s 81-yard interception return made it 34-3 late in the fourth quarter. It’s the third career interception return for a touchdown by Smith, beginning his third season.
Brian Quick had seven catches for 99 yards for St. Louis. The Rams didn’t help themselves with sloppy play and were penalized 13 times for 121 yards.
Robinson intercepted an underthrown pass by Hill looking like the primary receiver, tapping the turf with his right foot before going out of bounds. Cassel needed four plays and 48 seconds, finding Jennings in the back of the end zone.
Cassel needed just 48 seconds to put the Vikings up by 13 with Jennings catching an 8-yard touchdown pass.
The 34-year-old Hill made his first start since 2010 and was 8 for 13 for 81 yards. Davis, who was 16 for 23 for 192 yards and an interception, has been with the Rams at least parts of the last three seasons.
NOTES: Rams DE Chris Long (left ankle) was sidelined after tackling Peterson in the third quarter. Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes (groin) left in the third quarter. … OL Greg Robinson, the second overall pick of the draft, was limited to a handful of special teams snaps the first half, but came in at guard after Rodger Saffold (neck) left in the fourth quarter. … Blair Walsh kicked three field goals of 50-plus yards at St. Louis as a rookie in 2012 and he drilled a 52-yarder to open the scoring. He was 26 for 30 last season, three of the misses from beyond midfield. … Rams K Greg Zuerlein had been 7 for 13 career from 50-plus before hooking a 50-yarder later in the first.
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