The Minnesota Vikings out-manned the Atlanta Falcons 28-12 at home yesterday afternoon. Here are some key stories from the match-up in Minneapolis.
This match-up was sure to suggest excitement. Both offenses have a plethora of weapons and a chip on their shoulder after coming off disappointing seasons in which they missed the playoffs.
The Vikings wanted to get out to a quick start, and they did just that. They forced a 3-and-out to begin the game which then lead to a blocked punt, setting the men in purple up just outside of the red zone for their first drive of the game. Kirk Cousin’s second throw of the game resulted in a quick TD strike to Adam Thielen to put his team up 7-0 and set the tone in the 1st half.
STINGY DEFENSE IN THE NORTH
The Minnesota defense followed up exceptionally well throughout the majority of the contest. S Anthony Harris himself accounted for 3 of the Falcons' 4 turnovers. Harris picked off QB Matt Ryan twice and recovered a HB Devonta Freeman fumble. The vikings defensive pass rush also forced 4 sacks. The continuity is evident on this side of the ball as they retained nine of their 11 starters from the year prior. If you are following the Vikings, keep an eye on CB Mackensie Alexander as he suffered an elbow injury in the second quarter and did not return.
The Vikings running game was clicking so well that QB Kirk Cousins only had to throw the ball 10 times all game. HB Dalvin Cook ran for over 100 yards and a pair of scores, showing everyone that he is in as good of shape as ever. Cook was running hard, cutting quickly, and the front line looked much more effective than the prior season. Rookie RB Alexander Mattison also looked strong and shifty as he racked up 49 yards on just 9 carries. Mattison reminded me a lot of Jerrick McKinnon, who was a key piece of the Vikings offense two seasons ago in their run to the 2017 NFC Championship game.
FALCONS OFFENSE FLUTTERS
Despite throwing for over 300 yards and a pair of scores, QB Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons offense were rather underwhelming for a majority of the game. Their first score didn’t come until the fourth quarter as WR Calvin Ridley caught a touchdown pass, which satisfied fantasy football owners more than it did Atlanta Falcons fans.
HB Devonta Freeman, who recently signed a new 3-year, $66M contract, looked flustered as he ran for just 19 yards and lost a fumble. We can accredit his struggles to the stellar rush defense of the Vikings.
WR Julio Jones, who also signed a new contract, caught 6 of 11 targets and will need to have better production for the Falcons to make the postseason this year.
The Minnesota Vikings looked strong, confident, and poised to make a run in the NFC North.
Penalties plagued both teams (9 for the falcons and 11 for the vikings), and they will need to clean up their play in order to have sustained success throughout the season.
The Falcons have talent all over the board, but need to regroup and find their rhythm in order to do well going forward.
Mike Zimmer's team was able to find success in all facets of the game; something they were rarely able to do a year ago.
Falcons: The Dirty Birds of Atlanta look to bounce back next week in their home opener against Philadelphia in a primetime game on Sunday Night Football.
Vikings: The Vikings open up NFC North division play against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. This same week 2 match-up in 2018 resulted in a tie.
No Shenanigans, Just Football.