There were many that were expecting a high-flying matchup at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday between the Minnesota Vikings and the Atlanta Falcons. That didn’t materialize, but the Vikings grounded the high-flying Atlanta offense and got a victory in the way they needed to.
Case Keenum threw two touchdown passes, one to Jerick McKinnon and one to Kyle Rudolph, and the Minnesota defense limited the Falcons to just three field goals to get their eighth consecutive victory, 14-9.
The Falcons got on the board first, completing a very long first drive with a 38-yard field goal from Matt Bryant to give them a 3-0 lead with a little over five minutes remaining in the first quarter. That was all the scoring that took place in the first quarter of action, after a drive into Atlanta territory by the Vikings was snuffed out by a sack of Keenum by Grady Jarrett.
Minnesota got the first touchdown of the game early in the second quarter, as Case Keenum found Jerick McKinnon for a 2-yard touchdown pass, with the Kai Forbath extra point making it 7-3 with about ten minutes left in the half. Atlanta then got another field goal from Bryant, this one a 36-yarder to cut the Minnesota lead to 7-6 with a little under six minutes left in the second quarter. Minnesota had a drive that pushed into Atlanta territory at the end of the half, but the clock ran out as Minnesota was out of timeouts.
Atlanta started the second half with another field goal from Bryant, this one a 47-yarder to give the Falcons the lead back at 9-7 early in the third quarter. That wound up being all of the scoring that the third quarter had to offer, as the Falcons went into the final stanza holding that same 9-7 lead.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, the Vikings put themselves back in the lead, courtesy of a 6-yard touchdown pass from Keenum to Kyle Rudolph. Forbath put home the extra point, and the Vikings found themselves back on top by a score of 14-9.
The Falcons had a chance to close the gap late, but Matt Bryant was wide left on a 46-yard field goal attempt that would have made it 14-12. Minnesota then marched the ball down the field and forced the Falcons to use their timeouts. By the time we got to the two-minute warning, the Vikings had the ability to kneel out the clock and walk out of Mercedes-Benz Stadium with the team’s eighth consecutive victory.
Keenum put together another outstanding performance, completing 25-of-30 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns. He was 13-of-13 passing in the second half of this one, and the Vikings needed every one of those completions to get this victory.
Adam Thielen had his streak of consecutive games with at least five catches snapped, but still led the Vikings in receiving with 51 yards on four catches. Kyle Rudolph also had four catches, putting up 36 yards and a touchdown. Stefon Diggs had just two catches for 32 yards, and Jerick McKinnon had 28 yards and a score on five receptions. Latavius Murray had 21 yards on three grabs, and Michael Floyd had 20 yards on a pair of catches. Jarius Wright had three catches for 18 yards, C.J. Ham had a 12-yard reception, and Laquon Treadwell had a nine-yard catch.
Running the ball, Latavius Murray was the featured man again, as he gained 76 yards on 14 carries, including a big 30-yard jaunt that set up Minnesota’s first touchdown. Jerick McKinnon had 24 yards on nine carries, Stefon Diggs had five yards rushing on an end around, and Ham had a 1-yard carry.
The Vikings win their eighth straight game, moving their record to 10-2 and solidifying their grip on the #2 seed in the NFC. They have another tough road test next week, as they will travel to take on the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte. The loss for the Falcons drops them to 7-5 on the season, and they have a short turnaround as they host the New Orleans Saints on Thursday Night Football.
Minnesota survives a road trip to Atlanta, emerging with a 14-9 victory. Thanks to everyone that got their coverage of this week’s contest right here at The Daily Norseman!