EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Vikings led the Giants from start to finish, making key plays at critical times and eventually pulling away for a 28-10 victory on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
The win had a similar blueprint to Minnesota's other two wins of the 2019 season, starting fast on offense and playing aggressively on defense, but this time the Vikings accomplished both on the road.
Pre-game question: Would the Vikings be able to bounce back after a disappointing outing last week and win their first game on the road?
The Vikings offense was able to score on its first possession by mixing and matching personnel groupings and spreading the ball around. Four different players caught passes and four players had a rush during the possession, including Kirk Cousins, who rolled out to the right and surveyed deep options before tucking the ball and running for a gain of 4.
A 16-yard pass to Stefon Diggs followed, and the Vikings got a 13-yard completion to Adam Thielen to convert a third-and-5.
The 11-play drive covered 62 yards and ended with a field goal, but it allowed Minnesota to possess the ball for more than six minutes and establish a rhythm.
Dalvin Cook was lethal on the ground and through the air on a day when New York was without three starting linebackers as well as its own young phenon running back Saquon Barkley. Cook finished with 132 yards on 21 rushes with a long of 41, and he added 86 yards on six receptions.
"We stayed on schedule. We did everything that Coach Zim' came in on Monday and told us we had to do," Cook said. "I think with us coming out here and having a great intensity and playing faster than them and jumping on them fast, that kind of paid off."
The Vikings defense opened the game strong, too, by becoming the first defense in 2019 to not allow the Giants to score on their first drive of a game.
It appeared that Minnesota was going to force a quick punt after a sack by Anthony Barr and Everson Griffen, but the play was nullified because of an illegal contact penalty on Anthony Harris. Minnesota forced a punt from the Vikings 39-yard line after consecutive pass breakups by Mike Hughes and Eric Kendricks.
New York downed the punt at the 2, but the Vikings put together a season-long, 98-yard drive that ended with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Cousins to Thielen on a brilliant throw and catch.
The Giants later started a drive at their own 1, but an aggressive defense wasn't going to let that happen. Anthony Barr blitzed across the line of scrimmage in a New York second, tackling Jon Hilliman in the end zone for a safety that gave the ball – and momentum – back to Minnesota.
Zimmer presented Vikings Owner/Chairman Zygi Wilf and Owner/President Mark Wilf with a game ball in the locker room and gave players the day off tomorrow for a "Victory Monday."
Minnesota (3-2) will host Philadelphia (3-2) in Week 6.
"They had scored with the first possession in all four ball games, so it was big for us defensively not to allow them to score. We stopped them, I think, well, we got a penalty on the first third down again. But offensively, we did a nice job moving the ball and going down and getting some points."
— Mike Zimmer
"I thought it was a great win to get on the road and play well from the jump. I thought it was a very balanced attack today, offensively, through the pass and the run game, in the screen game and some other variety to the offense. I thought Dalvin Cook, again, showed why he's such a special player. I thought explosive plays were a key part of our success today, both in the run game and the pass game, and Coach Zimmer had made that a point of emphasis going into the game. The -yard drive was very important throughout the early part of the game to not only flip the field but get points and keep that momentum going. I still`feel like we left some out there with the red zone. We had to kick field goals, and then the fumble, so I thought that we could have had an even better day offensively if we had been able to come away with touchdowns instead of field goals, and then obviously the turnover hurt us, as well. But great to get a win, get on the plane, go home, enjoy it, and then get back to work and get ready for our next one next week at home."
— Kirk Cousins
"I feel great. It's huge for the team and the locker room. It's been a long week. There's been a lot trying to separate us. I think that just brought us closer as a group. I'm just proud of the guys and the way they fought back, blocked out all the noise and came out here and played in a hostile environment."
— Dalvin Cook
"It takes 11 guys to have success on the field. We were able to do that a lot today. The good thing is there's still a lot of things to clean up. We have to approach this week just like we approached last week — with a lot of frustration and just make sure we go back, look at the tape fix what we need to … there's so many plays that I could have done better today. Just because you have a good statistical week doesn't mean that you played any better. I think that's one thing that really good teams do … they go back and they're critical on the film and make sure they can get better each week."
— Adam Thielen
"You want to have success and you want to win. We had an unbelievable win today and tried to dominate. Kirk played lights-out. Our O-line did their best to play clean, and we were moving the ball. As far as having individual success, it's about team success. Do your part."
— Stefon Diggs
"It all works together. It's a big circle. When they're pushing the ball down the field and scoring points, it gives us that extra edge to go out there and give them the ball back again. The more points that are scored, it gives more time to rush the passer."
— Everson Griffen