Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson ran for 102 yards on just three carries, with a 67-yard scoring run off a simple pitchout. The Vikings were impressive across the board under new coach Mike Zimmer, shutting down the Rams 34-6 on Sunday.
"There's no way I can miss that hole," Patterson said. "When I get the ball in my hands, I expect great things."
Peterson rambled for 212 yards the last time the Vikings played in St. Louis in December 2012, enjoying the view on the end zone video board at the end of an 82-yard run. The star runner ground out 75 yards on 21 carries in the opener.
"We knew we were going against a good defense, especially a good front," Peterson said. "The guys up front didn't back down, we continued to hit them in the mouth."
Rams quarterback Shaun Hill lasted one half as the stand-in starter for Sam Bradford, missing the rest of the game with a quadriceps injury and leaving untested Austin Davis in charge. Coach Jeff Fisher believed Hill was hurt before his 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.
The Vikings were in command the rest of the way.
"I like how this team works, I've said it numerous, numerous times," Zimmer said after getting an ice bath from players. "I think we had a good plan, and it worked out."
Zimmer was a defensive coordinator with Dallas, Atlanta and Cincinnati the previous 14 seasons and inherited a team that went 5-10-1. He had a defense that surrendered the most points NFL last year clicking from the start, holding St. Louis to 170 yards the first three quarters.
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.
"These guys put in way too much work for this to end up like this," guard Rodger Saffold said. "I feel sorry for everybody in this room, and I know that next week it's going to be a bloodbath because I know nobody's going to want this to happen again."
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 to find Jennings.
The 34-year-old Hill made his first start since 2010 and was 8 for 13 for 81 yards. After the game, he was guarded about his status and also declined to discuss how he was hurt.
"I'm going to leave all comments about the injury up to coach Fisher," Hill said.
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.
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 Saffold (neck) left in the fourth quarter. After the game, Saffold said he was fine. ... 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 in his career from 50-plus before hooking a 50-yarder later in the first, but later connected from 56 and 46 yards.