CHRIS THOMASSON, THE GAZETTE
The Gazette, Colorado Springs
Vikings rack up 175 rushing yards One of the tenets of the Broncos’ much-improved defense had been stopping the run. In the first half of Sunday night’s 21-20 win over Minnesota at Empower Field at Mile High, the Vikings had their way on the ground. The Vikings, who entered the game averaging just 85.7 yards per game rushing, nearly equaled that with 85 in the first half. They finished with 175 yards. But somehow the Broncos, who had just 46 yards rushing, won the game on Russell Wilson’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Courtland Sutton with 1:03 left in the game. A key was getting three takeaways, the third straight game they had had three or more. But there is now once again work to be done on Denver’s rushing defense. The Broncos had given up 192 yards rushing last Monday at Buffalo, but were able to win 24-22. Before that, they had a three-game stretch of allowing just 98.3 yards an outing. “We do have to pay attention to the film,’’ said Broncos coach Sean Payton. At least the Broncos’ struggles against the run lately haven’t been nearly as bad as they were in a three-game stretch from Week 3 at Miami through Week 5 against the New York Jets, when they gave up an average of 251.7 yards in those three games. Still, the Vikings are hardly known for their running attack. Alexander Mattison entered Sunday with 461 yards in 10 games while averaging 3.5 yards per carry. He had 18 carries for 81 yards for a 4.5-yard average. And the Vikings got 31 of their rushing yards on a converted fake punt by Ty Chandler late in the game. Cooper makes good on sack Broncos outside linebacker Jonathon Cooper made good on his vow to sack Vikings quarterback Joshua Dobbs. But it took him two tries. On the first play of the second quarter, Cooper had a chance to wrap up Dobbs on third-and-1. He missed him and Dobbs threw a 3-yard TD pass to Josh Oliver for a 7-3 lead. Late in the second quarter, Cooper got to Dobbs for an 11-yard loss. “I’m going to sack him,’’ Cooper said Friday. Trautman delivers Broncos tight end Adam Trautman had been mostly quiet since catching five passes for 34 yards in the Sept. 10 opener against Las Vegas. Over the next eight games, he caught just eight passes for 50 yards, although got his only touchdown of the season Oct. 8 against the New York Jets. On Sunday, Trautman caught two passes in the first half for 33 yards. While those are hardly great numbers, they’re at least better than what the Broncos have gotten from tight ends with Greg Dulcich having missed nine of 11 games this season due to hamstring issues. Against the Vikings, neither backup tight end Chris Manhertz nor third-stringer Nate Adkins had a target. Skinner active Broncos rookie safety JL Skinner was active for the first time this season on Sunday night and made his NFL debut. Skinner, taken in the sixth round of April’s draft out of Boise State, was inactive for the first nine games. He was called into duty at Empower Field at Mile High due to P.J. Locke’s ankle injury. In addition to Locke, inactive for the Broncos were outside linebackers Ronnie Perkins and Thomas Incoom, inside linebacker Ben Niemann, center Alex Forsyth and defensive lineman Elijah Garcia.