The Vikings regressed after two straight weeks on the road and fell 40-23 on Sunday against the Falcons at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Minnesota lost because of plentiful miscues in a “strange” game for the offense. The day was compounded when the defense couldn’t get off the field.
The Vikings have now lost five home games in a row, a streak dating to a win against Detroit on Dec. 8, 2019.
Minnesota is 1-5 heading into its Week 7 bye after allowing 40 or more points for the second time this season.
View game action images as the Vikings take on the Falcons on Sunday.
Here are three stats that stood out:
1. 12-for-20 vs. 4-for-12
The Vikings defense entered the game as the stingiest squad on third downs in the NFL, but the Falcons were 9-for-17 on third downs.
Those conversions included a confidence-building 20-yard touchdown to pick up a third-and-11 on Atlanta's first possession.
Throw in a perfect 3-for-3 that included touchdowns of 40 and 35 yards, respectively, in the third and fourth quarters, and that's a bad day on pivotal downs for the Vikings defense.
Through six games, opponents have converted nine of 11 fourth downs (81.8 percent) against the Vikings.
Minnesota's offense, however, went 0-for-4 on third downs and failed to get a touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the Atlanta 1 in the first half. The lack of success was key in digging a 20-0 hole by halftime.
The Vikings finished 3-for-10 on third downs and 1-for-2 on fourth downs.
2. A day for the JJs
The JJs — Minnesota rookie receiver Justin Jefferson and Atlanta's seven-time Pro Bowler Julio Jones — had quite the day.
Jefferson caught nine passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns on 11 targets, pushing his yardage through his first six games to a Vikings rookie record of 537.
Jones finished with eight receptions for 137 yards and two scores on 10 targets.
According to Next Gen Stats, plays made by each receiver landed among the superlatives of Week 6.
Jefferson's top speed of 20.64 mph on his 35-yard reception ranked as the eighth-fastest by a ball carrier in Week 6 (excludes Monday's doubleheader).
As for his 49-yard touchdown catch, Jefferson traveled 54.1 yards (18th-longest) and delivered 27 yards after the catch, which was 17 yards above what was expected (fifth-greatest above expected).
Jones traveled 59.8 yards (14th-longest) on his 40-yard touchdown reception and had 29 yards after the catch on the play, which was 13 more than expected (seventh-greatest). Jones also gained 24 yards after the catch during a 23-yard reception when he was only expected to gain 6 (fourth-greatest above expectation).
Click on the following links to check out more longest plays and the list of incredible yards after catch.
3. QB comparison
Even though the Vikings recorded two sacks of Matt Ryan, Minnesota struggled to affect the passer consistently and lost receiving targets like Jones and tight end Hayden Hurst (35-yard touchdown).
Ryan completed 30 of 40 passes for 371 yards with four touchdowns and no turnovers. His passer rating of 136.6 was nearly 50 points higher than his previous best (87.2 in 2014) in four tries against Vikings defenses led by Zimmer.
Kirk Cousins finished 24-for-36 with 343 yards for three touchdowns and three interceptions and a passer rating of 90.4, but those numbers were greatly jolted in the final seven-plus minutes of the game when he was 9-for-12 with 146 yards and two touchdowns, generating a passer rating of 154.9. Prior to that, Cousins was 15-for-24 with 197 yards, a score and three interceptions, which resulted in a passer rating of 62.7.
The chart below shows the zone comparison between the quarterbacks.
Ryan hit the NFL-max passer rating of 158.3 on passes 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Cousins also fared well on such passes with a 127.1 passer rating.
A huge discrepancy, however, occurred on passes between the line of scrimmage and 10 yards beyond it.
Ryan played pitch-and-catch, going 21-for-22 with 189 yards and two scores (passer rating of 132.8). Cousins was less successful on such throws, completing 13 of 19 passes for 110 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions (passer rating of 78.7).