Vikings Roll To 28-10 Victory Over Giants: Three Takeaways

Will Ragatz

The Vikings needed this.

After a week filled with turmoil, rumors, and speculation, the Vikings needed to go out and win a football game. Behind a strong offensive performance and some timely big plays on defense, they were able to take care of business and pick up their first road victory of 2019.

Three takeaways from the win that brings the Vikings to 3-2 on the season:

1. Cousins and Thielen get passing game on track

The formula for the Vikings' first two wins was running the ball and staying conservative in the passing game. They also attempted to use that formula in their two losses, running the ball and throwing short passes to a fault. After Adam Thielen's postgame comments in Chicago about needing to throw the ball down the field, it wasn't too surprising to see the Vikings be aggressive through the air right from the start; Cousins dropped back to pass on four of the Vikings' first five plays.

This was Cousins' best game of the season, by far. He completed 22 of 27 attempts for 306 yards, breaking a career-long nine-game streak of being held under 300 passing yards. He didn't take any truly deep shots, but did appear to be looking for them periodically. However, Cousins didn't need to throw the ball 40 yards downfield when he had receivers open on short and intermediate routes all game long. Eight of his attempts traveled more than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage; he completed seven of those, with two touchdowns.

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The main beneficiary of the Vikings' rejuvenated aerial attack was Thielen, the guy who called for it in the first place. It looked like 2018 for Thielen, who caught seven of his eight targets for 130 yards and two touchdowns. He was constantly open, and Cousins found him. Thielen showed off his full arsenal of skills in this game, running great routes, making highlight catches, and picking up yards after the catch.

Notably, it was not a huge game for Stefon Diggs, who was fined over $200,000 for his absences last week. Diggs was targeted just four times, as many as third receiver Bisi Johnson, and had three catches for 44 yards. Still, the victory is the most important thing.

2. Cook continues to amaze

Following a one-week hiatus, Dalvin Cook's incredible season continued in a big way against the Giants. He ran for 132 yards and added 86 more yards as a receiver. Cook's 218 yards from scrimmage was the 8th-best total in Vikings history, behind four Adrian Peterson performances and three games from 1983 or earlier.

It was simply a masterclass running back performance. Cook burst through holes, made guys miss in the open field, and ended his runs with physicality. He is a threat to go for 20+ yards every single time he touches the ball with his combination of acceleration and agility.

Right now, it's Cook and Christian McCaffrey, and then every other running back in the NFL. The Vikings will continue to lean on him heavily the rest of the season.

3. Defense bends but doesn't break

The Vikings' defense wasn't perfect on Sunday, but it came through with big plays at all the right moments. On the Giants' first drive, Daniel Jones marched his team into Vikings territory, before the Vikings stiffened and forced a punt. After allowing a long touchdown on the Giants' next drive, the Vikings gave up just 11 net yards of offense for the remainder of the first half. That included forcing a safety for the first time since 2017.

The second half was all about bending but not breaking while defending a two-score lead. The Giants drove down to the Vikings' 5-yard-line on their first drive after halftime, but a Danielle Hunter sack forced them to settle for a field goal. They got inside the Vikings' 5 again on their next drive, only for Hunter to once again sack Jones, this time on fourth down. The drive after that got down to the 23-yard-line before a Griffen sack forced a long fourth-down attempt.

Griffen and Hunter remain maybe the best pass-rush duo in the league. Ifeadi Odenigbo had a strong game as an interior rusher, recording the first sack of his career. Anthony Barr had an interception. Mike Hughes played very well at nickel corner. Xavier Rhodes was burned on a touchdown and there were too many penalties, but it was a solid outing for the defense.

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