The Minnesota Vikings offense entered the 2017 regular season with many questions after a busy offseason and pedestrian preseason showing. After Monday night’s season opening performance, there may be fewer questions to answer than originally thought.
Quarterback Sam Bradford shredded the Saints’ defense for 346 yards and tacked on three touchdowns as the home team Vikings overwhelmed the New Orleans Saints, 29-19. Receivers Adam Theilen and Stefon Diggs feasted on a young Saints’ secondary as they combined for 16 catches, 250 yards, and two touchdowns. Rookie running back, Dalvin Cook also had an impressive debut with 127 yards rushing on 22 carries as he outshined former Viking running back, Adrian Peterson, who was limited to 18 yards on just six carries for his new team.
The defense overall was better than what the final yardage total would indicate. The Vikings held the Saints running back trio of Peterson, Mark Ingram, and rookie Alvin Kamara to just 53 yards rushing on the night. Saints quarterback, Drew Brees, completed 27 of 37 passes for 291 yards and a touchdown that came well after the game had been decided. Much of the passing yardage came on the Saints final two possessions as well.
Sam Bradford had a monster game, going 27 of 32 for 346 yards and three touchdown passes. After a slow opening quarter, he came on late in the second quarter by leading two touchdown drives in the final 5:26 of the half. The Vikings quarterback would attack downfield with regularity from this point forward.
Credit also has to go to the Vikings newly rebuilt offensive line. They got better in opening up running lanes as the night wore on and were fantastic in protecting Sam Bradford all night, only giving up one sack. Otherwise, their debut performance was surprisingly great, a far cry from the debacle of performances fans witnessed last season.
Latavius Murray may have been one of the very few people I can think to put here. It may have to do with how few reps he got during the preseason that led to him hardly seeing the field in this game. Two carries for six yards and a fumble is not the best way to back-up any team’s faith in an investment.
Play of the Game
For this game there were two, both made by third-year receiver, Stefon Diggs. The first came on his second touchdown catch just before halftime. With Saints cornerback, De’Vante Harris, draped all over him, he was still able to go up and get the pass from Bradford. Despite being unable to secure it with both hands, he still managed to pin the ball to his body before coming down in the endzone for the score.
Diggs would victimize Harris again early in the third quarter as he would make a tough sideline catch for a 30-yard gain while also drawing a defensive pass interference penalty. Even with the defender pulling on both shoulders, Diggs was able to maintain body control long enough to make the grab and get both feet down inbounds on the play.
The Minnesota Vikings will go on the road Sunday to face off against the defending AFC North division champion Pittsburgh Steelers. Their previous encounter came in week four of the 2013 season in London, England. The Vikings walked off the field as the victors in that one, 34-27.
The Vikings defense will be in for one of their toughest battles early in the year. The Steeler offense is one of the most talented and explosive groups in the NFL, so the Vikings offense may need to keep up in the scoring department if they’re going to walk out of Pittsburgh with a victory.
Read Sam Smith’s reactions to the game here.