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Kendricks' Pick-6 Swings Momentum Toward Vikings

Before Sunday's season-opening win in Tennessee, Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks told defensive end Danielle Hunter he was on the lookout for his first career interception.

But even that wasn't enough for the second-year linebacker. He wanted to return that touchdown for a score, too.

"He was saying he wanted a pick-six today," Hunter said. "And it happened."

The Vikings trailed by four late in the third quarter when Kendricks stepped up with perhaps the biggest play of his young career.

After Tennessee's Marcus Mariota faked a handoff, the quarterback was pressured by Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen and tried to lob a pass to Titans wide receiver Harry Douglas.

But Kendricks lurked near the line of scrimmage and stepped in front of Douglas, picking off Mariota and racing 77 yards for a touchdown to give the Vikings a lead they wouldn't relinquish in a 25-16 victory.

"Instincts kind of took over on the play," Kendricks said. "I saw Everson with a great rush. I was staying on (Douglas') hip and was going to undercut it regardless (because) I knew (Mariota) had to get rid of the ball.

"It's team defense," he later added. "I was called upon to make that play and I'm going to make it." 

Kendricks' clutch moment was part of the Vikings scoring 25 unanswered points after being down 10-0 at halftime.

"Once Kendricks got the interception, that's when it started," Hunter said. "I feel like it was a big change in momentum when he got that interception." 

Hunter himself also later found the end zone as he scooped up a fumble and raced 24 yards for a touchdown.

Minnesota's defense forced three turnovers and had two sacks as they held the Titans scoreless for almost the entirety of the second half.

View images from the Vikings Week 1 matchup in Nashville against the Titans.

Kendricks didn't play in the preseason and talked earlier this week about wanting to make an impact in the running game.

The Vikings defense limited Tennessee to just 64 rushing yards on 22 carries but it was Kendricks' pick-six that helped spur the Vikings to a win.

"We had good pressure; I thought Eric made a great play," said Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer. "He had a good week of practice this week, intercepted a lot of balls and I was hopeful that would carry over into the game."

It did just in time.

"We know Eric has great return skills," said linebacker Chad Greenway. "Once he caught it, he was gone."

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