The Vikings marched into New Orleans and kicked off their preseason successfully by logging a 34-25 victory over the Saints in a game that featured plenty of scoring, too many penalties and lots of highlight-caliber performances.
Here are five takeaways from Friday night's preseason opener.
1. Cousins paces sharp and explosive offensive effort
Kirk Cousins was in midseason form as he guided the offense onto the field to open the 2019 preseason for Minnesota. The veteran quarterback threw a 13-yard strike to Stefon Diggs on the first play from scrimmage. The gain was negated by a Rashod Hill holding penalty, but that only set the stage for another impressive Cousins accomplishment as he helped dig the offense out of a 1st and 20 hole by connecting with Kyle Rudolph for 10 yards on the next play and then scrambling for an 10-yard gain on 3rd and 9 to extend the drive. Moments later, Cousins dropped a dime in the lap of Adam Thielen, who beat his defender to make an impressive contested catch that gave the Vikings a 1st and goal at the Saints 1. Cousins then flipped an easy one to rookie Alexander Mattison for a touchdown to cap an eight-play, 76-yard series that left Vikings Nation feeling optimistic about its offense right out of the gate.
2. Bailey perfect on four PATs
Some missed kicks in training camp practices and the speculation as to the cause for the misses put a bit of a spotlight on the Vikings kicking game on Friday night. But Dan Bailey and Co. responded by converting all four of their point after touchdown attempts, assuaging anxiety (for now, at least) about an important phase of the game.
View images as the Vikings take on the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes Benz Superdome on Friday night.
3. Too many penalties
It's not uncommon for preseason games to be riddled by penalties. But that doesn't mean coaches have to like it or accept. Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer was clearly displeased with the number and variety of penalties his team committed. The Vikings were penalized 13 times for 136 yards on Friday night.
4. The Vikings are deep at running back
Mattison made a great first impression, accounting for 30 rushing yards on nine attempts and also recording the early touchdown reception. Although he lost a fumble, Ameer Abdullah flashed some playmaking ability, as well, and finished the game with 63 yards on four carries. Mike Boone ripped off a 64-yard touchdown run in the second half thanks in large part to blocking by backup fullback Khari Blasingame. Newly-signed De'Angele Henderson had 42 rushing yards on just six carries. And all of this isn't even taking into account the fact that Dalvin Cook didn't play and stud CJ Ham didn't crack the box score. Suffice it to say, the Vikings running back room is stacked.
5. Offensive coaching staff authored impressive debut
Coach Zimmer said he was impressed with the communication among the offensive coaching staff. The Vikings didn't have any delay of game penalties. The first-team offense essentially couldn't have looked better over the course of nine snaps. The quarterbacks finished with a combined passer rating of 135.9, weren't sacked a single time and generated a per-attempt average of 9.14 yards. All-in-all, it was a stellar debut performance for new offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and his staff.