In 2013, the Minnesota Vikings' defense became the eighth defense since the advent of the 16-game schedule to give up at least 30 points a game.
If today's season opener against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome is any indicator, they won't be giving up 30 points a game this year.
The Vikings' new-look defense completely shut down the Rams' offense, allowing only one 56-yard Greg Zuerlein field goal en route to a victory. It was the Vikings' first road win since defeating the Houston Texans in Week 16 of the 2012 season.
The Vikings couldn't get much going early on offense, as the team could only manage two Blair Walsh field goals to get out to a 6-0 lead. Then, with time winding down in the first half, Rams' quarterback Shaun Hill was intercepted by Josh Robinson, who made a great leaping catch and managed to keep both feet in bounds. The Vikings cashed in, with Matt Cassel finding Greg Jennings for the first touchdown of the season and a 13-0 lead going into the locker room.
The Rams replaced Hill with rookie Austin Davis at halftime, and Davis led the drive that led to the Rams' lone points of the afternoon. After the teams exchanged punts, Cordarrelle Patterson added to his already impressive highlight reel. He took a pitch from Cassel, went around the right side of the formation, and then proceeded to juke and outrun everybody en route to a 67-yard touchdown run to give the Vikings a 20-3 lead.
The Vikings put the icing on the cake, following a roughing the kicker penalty against the Rams on a Jeff Locke punt that extended a Vikings' drive. After a 22-yard pass to Rhett Ellison, the Vikings decided to feed their tight end that's used to catching passes, as Cassel found Kyle Rudolph for a 7-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 27-3.
The Rams put together a late drive, but Harrison Smith put a stop to it with a huge 81-yard interception return for a touchdown to seal it for Minnesota. That gave the Vikings a 34-3 lead, and gave them an opportunity to "empty the bench" a bit and get some other players into the game. Zuerlein added a second field goal to make the score 34-6, and that's the way it ended.
The final margin was the Vikings' biggest victory in a Week 1 contest since a 38-7 victory over the Houston Oilers in 1989. This was also the first game that saw the Vikings go without allowing a touchdown since the same game against the Houston Texans in 2012 that was mentioned earlier.
We'll have more on this game coming up a bit later on. For now, the Minnesota Vikings are 1-0 going into their first home game at TCF Bank Stadium next week against the New England Patriots.