Reemergence Of Passing Attack Could Make Vikings Offense Deadly
Kirk Cousins was allowed to throw the ball against the Giants and Minnesota's offense clicked
- The Minnesota Vikings crushed the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium, dominating both sides of the ball in their 28-10 victory.
- The Giants had won two-straight games with rookie quarterback Daniel Jones at the helm, while the Vikings were dealing with turmoil coming off a loss.
- Kirk Cousins had a big day (306 passing yards) and connected with Adam Thielen (130 receiving yards) for two touchdowns.
- The 3-2 Vikings will look to build on their performance and win two in a row for the first time this season with the Philadelphia Eagles coming to town in Week 6.
- It doesn’t get any easier for Jones and the 2-3 Giants. They play the NFL’s only 5-0 team (New England Patriots) on the road on Thursday night.
Contrasting Pregame Vibes
It was a week of controversy for the Minnesota Vikings coming off their 16-6 loss at the Chicago Bears, their second divisional loss in the young season, which left them as the only two-loss team in the NFC North. All fingers were pointed towards the offense after a poor showing, mostly at quarterback Kirk Cousins… by his teammates. After the game, a frustrated Adam Thielen said that the Vikings “have to be able to hit the deep balls.” Then there was no-show Stefon Diggs at practice and mandatory meetings early in the week, accompanied by rumors that Diggs wanted to be traded. It was unclear if he would play and ultimately, the Vikings decided on a hefty fine, per multiple reports.
Meanwhile in New York, everything was smelling like roses, at least for the Giants. The savior Daniel Jones, aka Danny Dimes, had led the G-Men to a second-straight win to improve to 2-2, tied for second place in the NFC East with the Philadelphia Eagles. A once hopeless season suddenly had promise. Contrasting what was coming out of Minnesota, it was all positive vibes in New York’s locker room. The feeling was that the Giants had weathered the adversity of an 0-2 start to prove they’re a team to be reckoned with. No longer clinging to their past and Eli Manning, the future had arrived. The unflappable Jones changed the tenor of the team to one of enthusiasm with his wise-beyond-his-years maturity.
Vikings Dominate Giants
The final score was 28-10 and the reality is, it wasn’t even that close. The Vikings outgained the Giants 490 yards to 211, more than doubling their yardage. New York averaged 3.4 yards per play compared to 7.7 by Minnesota. Against the toughest defense he’s faced to date, Daniel Jones was 21-of-38 for 182 yards (4.8 yards per pass) with a touchdown and an interception, while Kirk Cousins bounced back with a 22-of-27 performance for 306 yards, 11.3 yards per pass, and two touchdowns (no interceptions).
Led by the versatile Anthony Barr, the Vikings defense was winning at the line of scrimmage and flying all over the field. They sacked Jones four times, two by defensive end Danielle Hunter, and hit the rookie quarterback eight other times. Already without Saquon Barkley, the Giants lost Wayne Gallman on Sunday, which left rookie Jonathan Hilliman as the primary runner and the Rutgers product was limited to 20 yards on nine carries.
The New York offense had one bright moment when Jones hit speedy rookie Darius Slayton in stride for a perfect 35-yard touchdown. However, the other six Giants to catch a pass all averaged fewer than 10 yards per reception. That was a better indication of how Jones had issues getting the ball down the field and most of his completions were of the short variety.
Almost everything was clicking for the Vikings offensively. Not only did Cousins have a big game throwing the football, they gashed the Giants defense numerous times for big runs. The trio of Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, and Ameer Abdullah averaged 6.7 yards per carry and Cook had one of the best performances of his career. The former FSU star rushed for 132 yards and added another 86 yards as a receiver to give him 218 total yards. They did bog down in Giants territory several times as the Vikes settled for four Dan Bailey field goals and also fumbled inside New York’s five-yard line, all of which only served to keep the Giants in the game temporarily.
All Good Between Cousins & Company
Thielen played like a Pro Bowler on Sunday with his reliable hands, superb route running, balletic body control and playmaking ability after the catch. To be fair to Cousins, who is often much maligned, he too performed at a high level against the Giants. He was mostly decisive with his decision making, made the right reads, and was very accurate putting the ball right on the hands of his receivers.
Vikings Look to Build on Win, Giants To Regroup
With the win, the Vikings improved to 3-2 and they moved into a second-place tie with the Chicago Bears. It’s a win they believe they can build on, something they haven’t been able to do this season, as they’ve alternated wins and losses through five weeks. They talked a good game after beating up on the Giants but the proof is in the pudding and their next five games will not be easy. They play three on the road and four against teams that have winning records beginning with the Philadelphia Eagles, who they host this coming Sunday, a foe that the Minnesota is very familiar with. It was the Eagles who crushed the Vikings in the 2018 NFC Championship Game, a game Minnesota avenged with a 23-21 win in Week 5 last season.
While it’s all hunky dory in the Twin Cities, the unhappiness with usage in Minnesota’s locker room may have traveled like a virus to New York’s. Giants wide receiver Golden Tate, who was playing his first game back after serving a four-game suspension, didn’t sound particularly pleased with his reps, role, or production. He had three catches for 13 yards. That bears watching. We’ll also learn very quickly just how advanced Jones is, as the Giants travel to New England to face the Patriots on Thursday night. New England has the best defense in the NFL, they’ve allowed just two offensive touchdowns through five games, and Bill Belichick has the reputation for making minced meat of rookie signal callers.