US BANK STADIUM, MN – The Minnesota Vikings opened their 2019 season with a bang, dominating the visiting Atlanta Falcons in a 28-12 victory.
Minnesota’s ground game powered the offense in this one. Dalvin Cook led the way with 21 carries for 111 yards and two touchdowns. Rookie tailback, Alex Mattison, chipped in 49 yards on his nine carries.
The defense and special teams completely disrupted Atlanta’s offense for much of the afternoon. The defense recorded three takeaways while special teams blocked a punt on the Falcons’ opening possession.
- The Vikings’ rebuilt rushing attack gashed the Atlanta defense for 172 yards and three touchdowns. The personnel changes along the offensive line and coaching staff appeared to have paid dividends in the early going.
- Big plays in the early going helped to give the Vikings momentum that they would never relinquish. Anthony Barr‘s sack on the opening play from scrimmage set the tone. The blocked punt by Eric Wilson set-up the Vikings first touchdown drive on Atlanta’s 21-yard line. The Falcons next possession was derailed by an Anthony Harris‘ interception, leading to Minnesota’s second touchdown. After two more turnovers, the Vikings had built up a 28-0, essentially putting away Atlanta before the fourth quarter.
- When not forcing turnovers, the starting defense was stout throughout most of the game. They were able to sack Falcons’ quarterback, Matt Ryan, four times while pressuring on him on other throws. Much of his 304 passing yards came in garbage time. Atlanta’s run game was also shut down, gaining only 73 yards on the day.
- With the success of the ground game and defense, Kirk Cousins and the passing game didn’t put much out there in this one. With the 10 passes he threw, he was highly efficient, completing eight for 98 yards and a score. This could set up well for their showdown with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers on Sunday as they could have difficulty game planning for a passing attack that didn’t put much of the passing portion of their playbook on film.
- Despite the Vikings calling only 11 pass plays, Cousins still saw pressure on nearly half of them. Pass protection could be a work in progress or a continuing problem. In any event, the offensive line bares watching in this area.
- 11 penalties for 100 yards. More than likely this isn’t going to be a continuing concern. This has been an early season problem in years past only for it to level off weeks later. Still, that’s a fairly large number of mental mistakes and rest assured Mike Zimmer is going to take his team to task on this.
Player of the Game – Safety, Anthony Harris
If he doesn’t win the NFC Defensive Player of the Week after recording all three Viking takeaways, it’s highway robbery. His first interception set up Minnesota’s second touchdown drive in Falcons’ territory. His fumble recovery and second pick later on killed any chances of Atlanta getting back into the game.