In the National Football League, momentum is everything. For the early part of the Sunday Night Football game at U.S. Bank Stadium, the Minnesota Vikings had it. Then, they lost it to the New Orleans Saints, and didn’t come close to getting it back.
Despite holding Drew Brees to under 200 yards passing, the Vikings shot themselves in the foot with numerous, disastrous turnovers that they couldn’t overcome in falling to the Saints by a final score of 30-20.
The Saints got on the board first in this one, thanks to a 1-yard pass from Brees to Alvin Kamara. Minnesota answered back right away, however, with a 1-yard pass from Kirk Cousins to Stefon Diggs to tie the game at 7-7 in the first quarter.
Latavius Murray gave the Vikings their first lead of the night with a 1-yard touchdown run, but a missed extra point by Dan Bailey limited that lead to 13-7. Late in the second quarter, the Vikings appeared to have everything going their way, as Brees threw his first interception of the season into the hands of Harrison Smith to stop a Saints’ drive. The Vikings marched deep into Saints’ territory on the ensuing possession. . .
And that’s when they lost the momentum.
A short pass to the usually sure-handed Adam Thielen ended with Thielen putting the ball on the turf, and Saints’ cornerback Marshon Lattimore picking the ball up and returning it all the way to the Minnesota 33. Coupled with a penalty on Laquon Treadwell for throwing his helmet after the play, the Saints were in the Minnesota red zone, and capitalized with another 1-yard pass to Kamara. What looked like it could be a Vikings’ lead going into the locker room was instead a 17-13 halftime lead for the visitors.
The Vikings got the ball coming out of the locker room, and turned the ball over on downs in their own territory when Cousins’ pass for Treadwell on a 4th-and-1 gamble fell incomplete. The Saints got a field goal on the ensuing drive to make the score 20-13, and then another disaster hit.
Under pressure, Cousins was looking for Diggs, who appeared to stop on his route over the middle and allowed the ball to go into the hands of Saints’ cornerback P.J. Williams. Williams did the rest, taking the ball to the house for a 45-yard pick-six, and suddenly the Vikings were down 27-13.
Will Lutz added his third field goal of the night midway through the fourth quarter to make the score 30-13. The Vikings cut into the lead late in the fourth quarter with a 1-yard pass from Cousins to Thielen to cut the lead to 30-20. The Vikings attempted an onside kick after that, but it bounced harmlessly out of bounds and the Saints got the football.
The stat sheet shows that Kirk Cousins had a nice night for anyone that started him in fantasy football. He completed passes for yards, but did have a killer interception that pretty well buried the Vikings’ chances of a comeback in this one.
On the bright side, Adam Thielen did make history by going over the 100-yard mark for the eighth straight game. That breaks Charlie Hennigan’s mark for the most 100-yard games to start a season, and ties him with Calvin Johnson for the most consecutive 100-yard games in a season overall. He has a chance to break that record next week.
Diggs actually led the Vikings in receiving in this one, catching ten passes for 119 yards and a touchdown. Thielen wound up with seven catches for 103 yards and a score. Kyle Rudolph and Latavius Murray each wound up with 39 receiving yards in this one.
On the ground, Latavius Murray had a decent game, rushing for 56 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. His opportunities after halftime were slim with the Vikings trailing. Thielen had 15 yards on the ground, and Mike Boone had a trio of carries for 11 yards.
Defensively, the short-handed Vikings didn’t do that badly. Despite the absence of Anthony Barr, Xavier Rhodes, and Andrew Sendejo, Drew Brees threw for just 120 yards and a touchdown, and the Saints as a team had just 270 yards of offense. In the end, it was the Vikings’ errors that ruled the day in this one.
The Vikings’ three-game winning streak comes to an end, as they drop to 4-3-1 on the season. They’ll have just their second divisional game of the year next week when they play host to the Detroit Lions. The Saints, on the other hand, move to 6-1 with their sixth victory in a row, and they’ve got a big one coming next Sunday when they host the 7-0 Los Angeles Rams.
The Minnesota Vikings just didn’t have it on Sunday Night Football tonight, as they fall to the New Orleans Saints by a final score of 30-20.