The Vikings are now 2-1 to start the season and 2-0 at U.S. Bank Stadium after yesterday's 34-17 win over the Buccaneers.
A number of observations can be made about the contest that featured splash plays on both sides of the ball, but NFL.com's Nick Shook zeroed in on offensive takeaways when reviewing the win. He called Stefon Diggs the "champion of the day" after catching two touchdowns from Case Keenum, who started a second consecutive game in place of the an injured Sam Bradford. Shook wrote:
With Sam Bradford still not healthy enough to play, backup quarterback Case Keenum went to Diggs early and often. Diggs finished with eight catches for 173 yards and two scores and was undoubtedly the best weapon on the field for either team, serving as the guy for Keenum (25 of 33, 369 yards, three touchdowns). Combined with a solid outing from fellow wideout Adam Thielen (five catches, 98 yards) and another good day from running back Dalvin Cook (27 carries, 97 yards, one touchdown), Minnesota's offense was cooking early and often, building a lead for its defense to hang on to later in the game.
Shook continued that the Vikings should be pleased with their performance in "two of the first three weeks" this season.
Sam Bradford was magnificent in Week 1, and Case Keenum bounced back from a pedestrian Week 2 to light it up at home. Usually, losing a starting quarterback can derail a team aiming for contention. Minnesota didn't miss a beat on Sunday. Credit Diggs, Cook, Thielen and a rock-solid defense that kept most everything in front of it against Tampa Bay.
One of Minnesota's main focuses heading into Sunday's game was to manage Gerald McCoy, the Bucs' leading defensive tackle who did plenty of damage against the Bears in Week 2.
Mark Craig of the *Star Tribune *said the Vikings executed their game plan against the 300-pound "wrecking ball." Craig wrote:
*McCoy, who blew up Chicago's game plan a week earlier in a rout of the Bears, was a non-factor. The defensive tackle had four tackles and one hit on quarterback Case Keenum, who was hit only three times with no sacks while completing 75.8 percent of his passes for 369 yards and a 142.1 passer rating. *
Craig spoke with Vikings Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur following the game.
"We certainly paid special attention to McCoy," Shurmur told Craig. "I thought [offensive line coach] Tony Sparano had a good plan for how to block him, and I thought the guys up front really did a good job executing that game plan."
Craig said that Minnesota's first three plays on offense "set the tone for the day" and later added that there were several plays in which the Vikings "ran behind a well-timed, well-executed double-team on McCoy."
*McCoy typically lines up over the guard to the tight end side. When the Vikings didn't double him, they tended to run the ball or roll Keenum away from him. *
"We were pretty certain of where he was going to line up, so we could kind of adjust how we were going to call things," Shurmur told Craig. "But scheme is one thing. The players have to execute, and I think the guys did a really good job battling him."
Vikings demonstrate 'unified front' prior to Sunday's game
Vikings players, coaches, Owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf and General Manager Rick Spielman stood on the sideline and linked arms during the National Anthem on Sunday.
ESPN's Courtney Cronin wrote about the Vikings expression of support and solidarity:
Across the league on Sunday, every team participated in some form of demonstration during the anthem. The Vikings didn't have a team meeting ahead of time to discuss what they would be doing. There was no direction given from ownership or the coaching staff. The decision was solely up to the players.
Safety Harrison Smith said following the Vikings win that the gesture demonstrated a "unified front."
"Guys feel different ways about different things going on right now, and we just wanted to show that guys from all different backgrounds – front office guys, ownership – we are all in this together," Smith told Twin Cities media members. "Just like we are all in this together as Americans."
Cronin also quoted defensive end Brian Robison, who spoke proudly of the "brotherhood" of the Vikings locker room.
"When we come in this locker room, we love each other," Robison said. "This is a football team. Guys love each other, this is a brotherhood. This is a family. We spend more time with each other than we do our own families during the season.
"I say all the time, if the outside world would be able to let things go and really be able to come together like we do in NFL locker rooms, the world would be a different place," Robison added.