It would be one thing if the Vikings showed up listless in the opening quarter against the Bills on Sunday, entering the game as 17.5-point favorites. Minnesota fought to a whirlwind tie against the rival Packers last week, so an early letdown would be at least partially-excusable.
But not even Josh Allen's parents could have predicted the 27-6 beating Buffalo doled out at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday. A team that had a player quit during halftime last week came out like one of the league's toughest units, both mentally and physically, controlling the line of scrimmage on each end.
Allen dialed up his rocket arm and displayed some track-athlete moves, while Kirk Cousins was often swarmed within two seconds of snapping the ball. Prior to a garbage-time touchdown to tight end Kyle Rudolph, Cousins tallied just 216 yards on 47 attempts, checking down so much it would probably make Alex Smith blush.
Vikings fans earned their first introduction to the Jekyll-and-Hyde nature of Kirk Cousins over the past two contests. After throwing for 425 yards and four touchdowns last week, the former Redskins QB looked scattershot throughout on Sunday, dancing out of the pocket at the first sign of trouble. Cousins is now 27–31–2 in his NFL career.
The Bills' front dominated Minnesota's ground game to the tune of 14 yards on six carries. Buffalo's run game, by contrast, racked up 124 yards and two scores. No LeSean McCoy did little to slow down the Bills' attack.
It was a sloppy effort all around by the Vikings. Minnesota lost two fumbles to pair with a Cousins interception, going 4-13 on third down. The Bills controlled possession 35:45 to 24:15, and it could have been an even greater blowout if not for 12 Bills penalties.
The Vikings are almost certainly better than they looked on Sunday, especially when Dalvin Cook returns to the lineup. But things won't get any easier in Week 4. Minnesota travels to Los Angeles next week for a Thursday Night Football matchup with the Rams. Mike Zimmer and Co. will need to get things turned around quickly.