The Vikings completed a perfect second quarter of the season on Thursday night, defeating the Washington Redskins by a score of 19-9 to improve to 6-2 overall and extend their winning streak to four games.
Here are five takeaways from the win over the Redskins.
1. Familiar formula on offense helps lead to hard-fought win
The Vikings entered Thursday night on a three-game winning streak. In those three games, the offense averaged 35 runs per game and 30 passes per game. On Thursday night, offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski stuck with that formula, despite it not generating the type of point production it did in the first three games. Stefanski's steadfast commitment to the run and to offensive balance paid off, as the Vikings wore down a Redskins defense that was on the field too much. The Vikings ran the ball 38 times for 161 yards and one touchdown, generating a per-carry average of 4.2 and a 13-minute time of possession advantage.
2. Defense came up big in critical situations
The Vikings defense was stout against a struggling Redskins offense. Washington failed to get into the end zone during the game and generated only three 1st downs in the second half. The Vikings held the Redskins to no touchdowns in two trips to the red zone and in two goal-to-go situations. Washington was just two of seven on 3rd down and the Vikings registered four sacks and two takeaways in the winning effort.
3. Cook and Diggs shoulder the load with Thielen unavailable
With offensive stalwart Adam Thielen sidelined because of a hamstring injury, two of the team's other offensive stars shouldered the load. Dalvin Cook finished with 28 touches for 171 yards and a touchdown while receiver Stefon Diggs came down with seven catches for 143 yards. Together, Cook and Diggs generated 314 yards on 35 touches, which equated to 72.3% of the net offense. Last week in Detroit, it was the supporting cast who rose to the occasion and helped the Vikings score 35 points after Thielen left the game. This week, the supporting cast did their job well but it was Cook and Diggs who said paced the offensive output.
View postgame celebration images from Thursday as the Vikings beat the Redskins by a 19-9 score.
4. Bailey back on track
In a game where touchdowns were hard to come by, veteran kicker Dan Bailey got back on track and continued to salvage scoring drives. Negative plays in the red zone bogged down promising Vikings drives and Bailey came on to tack more points onto the scoreboard. When all was said and done, Bailey converted all four of his field goal tries – from distances of 50, 40, 29 and 27 yards. He also had four touchbacks on six kickoff attempts.
View images of the Vikings as they take on the Redskins in their Purple Primetime jerseys on Thursday night.
5. Vikings in good standing halfway through regular season
The Vikings winning streak is up to four games and their overall mark of 6-2 puts them in the thick of the NFC North race and among the top teams in the conference. Five of the Vikings six wins have come against NFC teams, which gives them a good chance to accumulate enough wins to come out on top of potential tie breakers when it comes to playoff qualification and seeding. Is it too early to look at the playoff picture? Yes. But it's never bad to stack wins on top of wins, especially when those wins are within your own conference.