The Vikings running back knew his time would come. And when it did Sunday against the Ravens, Murray pounced.
“It was a matter of me just trying to find my rhythm and get a groove going,” Murray said. “Eventually I knew I would have some success, I knew I had to keep continuing to do what I do and keep working.”
Murray carried 18 times for 113 yards and scored his first touchdown of the season Sunday, leading the charge on the ground, and the Vikings ran for 169 total yards. The offseason free agent acquisition had tallied just 97 yards on 41 carries through the first six games, but more than doubled his rushing total Sunday.
“The thing I liked about him today was the physicality that he ran with,” said Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer. “He’s a slashing style runner … yards after contact were good today.
“It’s good to see him going, and it adds to our dimension on offense,” Zimmer added.
Murray scored Minnesota’s lone touchdown on the day from 29 yards out. He burst up the middle and juked out safety Tony Jefferson at the 10-yard line, keeping his balance for the final few yards as he stumbled his way in for six.
“They were going to talk about me if I let him tackle me,” Murray said with a smile. “I just tried to take a hard angle and make him think I was headed for the pylon.
“Once I saw him bite on it, I put my foot in the ground and turned back up field,” Murray added.
Murray’s teammates were happy to see the easygoing running back break out and produce with a big game.
“Phenomenal. He got started early, and it just looked like every carry he had, he was getting stronger and stronger,” McKinnon said. “He ran really well. He trusted what he saw, and he hit it a thousand miles per hour.
“He had some good runs, and then the touchdown, I was real excited,” added McKinnon, who had 14 carries for 47 yards. “He had a phenomenal game.”
Added Vikings tight end
Murray produced two of the three longest plays of the day for the Vikings, as he also had a 35-yard run on the opening play of the second half.
“I want to try and be explosive and make guys miss and get those big runs,” Murray said. “That gets us in position to score touchdowns … those long runs I want as well.
“When the O-line puts a hat on their guy and gets me to the second level, that’s the best feeling in the world for a back,” Murray later added. “That’s all you can ask for … the rest is up to you getting to the second level.”
“He’s a shifty guy. He’s really good with a little bit of space,” Keenum said. “He is just going to continue to get better. Coming back the way he has, I think it’s going to time up really well. To have those two backs hitting on all cylinders, I think that is a really good 1-2 punch.”
The effort was the sixth 100-yard rushing yard game of Murray’s career. His 113 yards tied for the third-most he’s ever had in a game. Murray signed with the Vikings as a free agent in March but missed spring practices and a portion of training camp after undergoing ankle surgery.
“I’ve been saying for some time now that the ankle has been good,” Murray said. “I don’t think you guys believed me.
“At this point, it was about me and about continuing to improve,” Murray added.
Murray’s breakout game came as Minnesota improved to 5-2 and moved into sole possession of first place in the NFC North. But much like Murray through the first six games of the season, don’t expect the Vikings to stray from their plan going forward.
“We’re in a good position and are doing some good things,” Murray said. “But it’s a long season, and we know that.
“We have to continue to keep working and find ways to win no matter what,” Murray added.