We know that the Minnesota Vikings’ defense has a ton of talent, and we expect them to be very good. But I’m not sure how many Vikings’ fans anticipated what we were witness to on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium against the Atlanta Falcons.
Forcing three Atlanta turnovers, and turning all of them into touchdowns, the Vikings victimized Matt Ryan and company early and often en route to a 28-12 victory in the 2019 NFL season opener.
Things got off to a very good start for the Vikings, as they forced a three-and-out on defense on the first drive of the game, and then got a blocked punt from Eric Wilson to set themselves up deep in Atlanta territory. The Vikings then cashed in, as Kirk Cousins found Adam Thielen for a 23-yard touchdown to give the home team an early 7-0 lead.
Minnesota’s defense came up big again, as Anthony Harris intercepted Matt Ryan on Atlanta’s next series to give the Vikings the ball in Falcons’ territory again. This time, Dalvin Cook put the points on the board with a beautiful 19-yard run to make the score 14-0 midway through the first quarter.
Looks like a pin-and-pull with a key block from Thielen pic.twitter.com/yj5FaJxIaH— Arif Hasan (@ArifHasanNFL) September 8, 2019
The Vikings added another touchdown in the second quarter, as Kirk Cousins went in on a quarterback sneak, and the two teams went into the locker room with the home team leading 21-0.
Following another interception by Harris, the Vikings took the ball down the field again, and with the help of a couple of personal foul penalties on the Falcons, got themselves into position to add to their lead. Dalvin Cook did just that with his second touchdown of the game, a 7-yard blast to extend the lead to 28-0.
Atlanta did manage to dent the scoreboard in the fourth quarter, as Calvin Ridley beat Trae Waynes down the left sideline on a 4th-and-5 play for a 20-yard touchdown. The Falcons were unsuccessful on a two-point conversion attempt, making the score 28-6 with just over nine minutes remaining in the contest.
The Falcons managed another late score when the Vikings were, largely, playing a softer defense. Matt Ryan found Julio Jones, who had a very quiet day overall (six catches, 35 yards) for a 2-yard score. The Falcons went for two again and were unsuccessful, providing the final margin at 28-12.
Dalvin Cook had a huge day for the Vikings, carrying the ball 21 times for 11 yards and finding the end zone twice. The rest of the offensive numbers for the Vikings weren’t terribly eye-popping. Cousins only threw ten passes. . .yes, 10. . .but completed eight of them for 98 yards and a touchdown. Adam Thielen was the Vikings’ leading receiver on the day, hauling in three passes for 43 yards and a score. Stefon Diggs had two grabs for 37 yards, including the Vikings’ longest catch of the day, a 31-yarder. Cook had two catches for nine yards, and Chad Beebe also had a nine-yard reception.
Rookie running back Alexander Mattison also had a nice day in relief of Cook. He had the Vikings’ longest run of the game, a 23-yarder that set up the Vikings’ touchdown in the third quarter, and finished the day with nine carries for 49 yards.
The star of the day on defense would have to be Harris, who should probably be your NFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 1 of this season, barring a huge performance in the late games. He had two interceptions, and was also credited with a recovery of a fumble that was forced by Trae Waynes that stopped a Falcons’ drive in the red zone. Anthony Barr, Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph, and Danielle Hunter each picked up a sack of Matt Ryan on the afternoon.
The Vikings move to 1-0 on the season, and will play their first road game of the year next Sunday, as they’ll travel to Lambeau Field to meet the Green Bay Packers (1-0). The Falcons drop to 0-1, and will host the Philadelphia Eagles next weekend on Sunday Night Football.
The Vikings throttle the Falcons by a final score of 28-12 and get a big win to start the 2019 season. Thanks to everyone that got their coverage of today’s game right here at The Daily Norseman!