The game started with a Vikings sack, and continued like that until it was 28-0 into the 4th quarter, before the Falcons got a couple garbage time scores, en route to a 28-12 blowout by the Vikings. The outcome was never in doubt.
Zimiak Football - Except for Some Penalties
Except for some penalties, it was a game Mike Zimmer and Gary Kubiak would like to clone 18 more times this year, with signature stats and style typical of both coaches:
- Vikings 172 yards rushing, 79% rushing plays, 5.25 non-QB yards per carry
- Falcons convert only 25% of third down attempts
- Vikings 3 takeaways, no turnovers
- Vikings convert 100% of red zone opportunities, 50% of 3rd downs
- Vikings make all kicking attempts, special teams gets a punt block
- Vikings defense gets 4 sacks
- Vikings QB rating: 140.8. Falcons QB rating: 85.8
Compelling Lack of Drama
The Vikings have matched-up well against the Falcons for years, and haven’t lost to them since 2011. A couple of the more recent games have had a bit more drama, but this game was never in doubt. But despite the lack of drama, with a Vikings victory never in doubt, it was still a compelling game to watch - just waiting for the Vikings to make another play.
And so at the end of the game, you still wanted more - more big plays.
There wasn't even any drama in the Vikings kicking game. Dan Bailey made all his extra point attempts in routine fashion.
The only source of angst was a series of defensive linemen jumping off-sides - three times resulting in a first down. Beyond the penalties, Pat Elflein occasionally getting beat on a block was about it.
- Anthony Harris had two big interceptions and a fumble recovery en route to a 92.5 PFF grade for the afternoon - tops on defense.
- Dalvin Cook had 21 carries for 111 yards, a 5.3 yard per carry average
- Kirk Cousins had all of 10 passing attempts, but completed 8 of those for 97 yards and a TD for a 140.8 passer rating
- The good news is that Pat Elflein wasn’t the worst graded offensive lineman for the Vikings. The bad news is that rookie Garrett Bradbury was. There were only 14 reps in pass protection, but Grady Jarrett (95 PFF grade) got to Bradbury early and often. Bradbury actually had a 0.0 grade in pass protection, en route to a 35.1 grade overall.
- Adam Thielen was the highest graded player on offense (which is typical), and CJ Ham was second, based on his run blocking.
- Defensively, the biggest negatives were for tackling. Stephen Weatherly, Mark Fields, Everson Griffen, Kris Boyd, Ifeadi Odenigbo, and Eric Kendricks all got poor tackling grades (1 or 2 missed tackles). Trae Waynes and Mark Fields also got poor coverage grades.
The only injuries of note came in a group that’s a bit thin already - cornerback. Slot corner MacKensie Alexander left the game with a dislocated elbow, and will have an MRI to determine the severity of the injury. Xavier Rhodes has also in and out most of the game with what appeared to be another (or ongoing) hamstring injury.
Those injuries, combined with Mike Hughes still not ready to play, and Holton Hill suspended, could result in guys like Jayron Kearse and Kris Boyd getting more playing time. Kearse playing in the slot is not so much a worry, but Kris Boyd has some work to do and would likely draw more than his share of targets from Aaron Rodgers next week if he plays.
It was an impressive opening tilt for the Vikings, who undoubtedly raised their profile as a NFC North, NFC, and Super Bowl contender.
Next week against the Packers will either add or subtract to that, as the two teams will battle for the early lead in the division race.
Official NFL Game Summary
The official NFL game summary is here.