In Minnesota, it still begins and ends with defense.
The Vikings forced four turnovers—one of them a Pick 6 from rookie defensive back Mike Hughes—to beat the San Francisco 49ers 24-16 Sunday.
Hughes’ interception put the Vikings up 17-3 early in the third quarter.
Vikings’ quarterback Kirk Cousins took care of the ball, going 20-36 with two touchdowns—a 22-yard strike to Stefon Diggs early in the second quarter and a late third-quarter, 11-yard toss to Kyle Rudolph which gave the Vikings a 24-6 lead.
Thanks to Minnesota’s ineffective fourth quarter offense (three straight three plays-and-out possessions) the 49ers made a push in the fourth quarter, but could only muster the third of Robbie Gould’s field goals.
While rookie Hughes made the defensive splash play in the first half, it was veteran safety Harrison Smith who made the big plays in the second half: a third-down sack of 49’ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and an interception after the two-minute warning to end suspense.
In addition to an interception, Smith made eight tackles; two of those tackles were for losses. Xavier Rhodes also picked off a Garoppolo pass in the second half.
The Vikings defense made a huge play late in first half. Down 10-3, San Francisco went on a 14-play drive in the second quarter, but Linval Joseph forced a fumble at the Minnesota 1-yard line to end the threat.
Roger Dier covers the Vikings for Full Press Coverage and is also the managing editor of NHL content for FPC. Follow him on Twitter @dierstraits.com
Harrison Smith: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
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