To start the second quarter of play at U.S. Bank Stadium, the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints were tied at 7-7, and the Vikings opened the quarter with a short pass from Kirk Cousins to Stefon Diggs for a nice 19-yard gain into Saints’ territory at the 45. The Vikings then ran the ol’ flea flicker, with Cousins finding Adam Thielen for a 28-yard gain, and the Vikings were in the red zone at the New Orleans 17. The Vikings then found themselves facing 3rd-and-7 from the 14, and the Saints were flagged for defensive holding to give the purple a free first down and a first-and-goal. The Vikings wasted no time, as Latavius Murray went over the top of the pile for a touchdown! Dan Bailey. . .sigh. . .pushed the extra point to the left, and the lead remained 13-7.
Bailey lofted a short kickoff to Taysom Hill, who took the ball to the Saints’ 33-yard line to start the drive. A couple of passes to Michael Thomas picked up a first down for the Saints, and they were suddenly near midfield. Mark Ingram carried the ball to the 50, and a pass to Alvin Kamara was stopped by Eric Kendricks to bring up a third down and short. Everson Griffen then jumped offsides to give the Saints a first down to the Minnesota 41. The Saints then found themselves with a 3rd-and-3 at the 34-yard line, and Kamara dropped a pass to bring up fourth down. The Saints brought in Will Lutz for a 52-yard attempt, and he drilled it to make the score 13-10 with 7:27 remaining in the half.
The kickoff from Lutz went for a touchback, giving the Vikings the ball at the 25 for the first time on the evening. He found. . .who else. . .Adam Thielen right away for 15 yards to the 40-yard line. That was followed by a huge run by Latavius Murray. . .that was wiped out by a hold on Pat Elflein. Cousins was then sacked by Sheldon Rankins, making it 2nd-and-25. The Vikings couldn’t get enough to move the chains, so Matt Wile came on for his first punt of the evening. Matt Wile booted it away, and Kamara returned it to the New Orleans 33.
A couple of runs by Kamara quickly put the Saints into Minnesota territory at the 45. However, the Saints’ drive was stopped by Harrison Smith, who intercepted a pass intended for Thomas at the Minnesota 33-yard line!
Brees' first pick of the season, courtesy Harrison Smith pic.twitter.com/2fY5DJR4jD— Arif Hasan (@ArifHasanNFL) October 29, 2018
After a couple of runs by Mike Boone, the Vikings had a 3rd-and-6 from their own 37 at the two-minute warning. Cousins then hit Kyle Rudolph, who stretched for the necessary yardage and a new set of downs. Cousins then threw incomplete for Murray, and a long pass for Laquon Treadwell fell incomplete as well to bring up another third down. Cousins then calmly found Aldrick Robinson for a big 19-yard gain into New Orleans territory at the 37.
Eli Apple was then flagged for pass interference against Treadwell to give the Vikings another first down to the Saints’ 30, and a short pass to Murray went into the red zone at the 18. Cousins then hit Thielen with a short pass, and after gaining a few yards, Thielen fumbled for the first time this season. The ball was picked up by Marshon Lattimore and taken deep into Minnesota territory, and Treadwell was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct to move the ball all the way to the Minnesota 18 with under a minute remaining.
Brees went to work immediately, finding Kamara on a short pass that he took all the way to the 1-yard line, and then Kamara went over the top for a score. The two-play drive and the extra point by Will Lutz gave the Saints a 17-13 lead with thirty seconds left in the half. The Vikings got the ball back, but ran one play and let the clock run out before heading to the locker room.
Cousins has played an outstanding game thus far, for the most part. He has completed 15-of-19 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown in the first half of play. Thielen is almost to his eighth straight 100-yard game already, as he leads the team with 75 yards on five catches. Stefon Diggs has 54 yards and a touchdown on four receptions, and Aldrick Robinson has a 19-yard catch. Roc Thomas has a 15-yard reception, and Kyle Rudolph has 14 yards on three grabs. Latavius Murray has a 12-yard reception as well.
Speaking of Murray, he’s done decently on the ground thus far against the NFL’s #1 run defense. He has 29 yards and a touchdown on five carries thus far. Thielen has a 15-yard run, and Mike Boon has three carries for 11 yards as well.
That’s where we stand at halftime, ladies and gentlemen, with a big momentum swing putting the Vikings down by a score of 17-13 at halftime. The purple will get the football first coming out of the locker room, so hopefully they can recapture the momentum they had early on.