Vikings running back Latavius Murray makes his mark after slow start

Vikings running back Latavius Murray makes his mark after slow start

Latavius Murray had one of his best games of the season in the Vikings’ 23-10 victory over Chicago on Sunday, helping the team clinch the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs and win their 13th game, the second-­highest mark in franchise history.

When the Vikings signed Murray to a three-year, $15 million deal in March, they were expecting the kind of numbers he eventually produced — 842 yards on 216 carries with eight scores, which tied for the sixth-most rushing touchdowns in the NFL this season.

But Murray’s season wasn’t that simple. Through the first six games of the season, he was averaging 16.2 yards per game and he didn’t score his first touchdown until Week 7.

But like so many Vikings this season, Murray stepped up when the team needed him. He only got better as he recovered from offseason ankle surgery and got more carries, and from Week 7 on Murray rushed for 745 yards, which tied for the fourth-highest total in the NFL during that stretch.

“People can look at the Baltimore game and say that was my breakout game,” Murray said about his Week 7 performance, when he rushed for 113 yards and his first touchdown. “For me, I just try to continue to improve. I just try to continue to get better, at practice and week by week. For me, that’s always been the most important thing.

Now he will get a chance at his second playoff game, after reaching the postseason last year with the Raiders, where he rushed for 39 yards and a score in a 27-14 loss to Houston.

He was asked how important it was for the Vikings to get the first-round bye.

“A chance for us to heal and get some guys back healthy and take a minute to sit back and relax and maybe get away from everything for a little bit,” Murray said. “It’s been a very long season, so I think it will be good for us.”

What does the team need to work on?

“We need to continue to be better on third down,” he said. “Run the ball more efficiently; continue to do that and be better at that. Have some more explosive plays. I think collectively there are a lot of areas we can improve on. We have to figure it out and just try and get better over this next week.”

Source: Star Tribune | Sid Hartman | January 4, 2018