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.
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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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