Happy "Victory Monday," Vikings fans.
Minnesota notched its first win of the season at Houston on Sunday. CBS Sports' John Breech gave the Vikings a B+ for their performance that included a trio of playmakers on offense and a defense stout in the red zone. He wrote:
With 0-4 staring them straight in the face, the Vikings went to Houston and gave one of their best offensive performances of the season. Dalvin Cook steamrolled through the Texans defense for 130 yards and two touchdowns, but more importantly, the Vikings passing game looks to be back on track. For the second straight week, rookie receiver Justin Jefferson proved to be a key weapon for Kirk Cousins as he caught four passes for 103 yards. Adam Thielen also came up big for Minnesota with 114 receiving yards and a touchdown. The ability of the Vikings offense to keep Houston's defense guessing in this game was a huge factor in Minnesota's success, especially in the red zone, where the Vikings came away with four touchdowns on five trips.
The Vikings now share a 1-3 record with the division-rival Lions, who fell 35-29 to a Saints squad without star receiver Michael Thomas. Breech gave Detroit a D grade for an outing in which the team "jumped out to an early double-digit lead and then completely fell apart."
This collapse was a team fail. Defensively, the Lions gave up five straight touchdown drives to New Orleans after picking off Drew Brees on the first play of the game. The Lions secondary got dissected by Brees, who had struggled through the first three weeks of the season. The Lions offense also disappeared after jumping out to an early 14-0 lead. One of the biggest mistakes of the game for Detroit came fromMatthew Stafford, who threw an ugly interception in the end zone midway through the second quarter. After that pick, the Lions didn't get near the Saints end zone again until the third quarter was almost over.
The Bears, who moved to 3-1, also received a D for their loss to the Colts.
Breech pointed out that Chicago's defense is a "top-10 unit in the league" and held the Indianapolis offense to under 275 yards, "which should be good enough to win a game."
Here's the problem – the offense wasn't any better under Nick Foles than it was [with] Mitchell Trubisky. Chicago failed to score an offensive touchdown in Foles' first start until the Colts went into soft coverage late in the fourth quarter, a hard task since the former Super Bowl MVP faced the No. 1 ranked defense in points and yards allowed and the No. 1 pass defense – in typical Chicago October weather. Foles finished with less than 250 yards passing and was not good outside of a drive where he went 5-for-6 for 82 yards – which led to the Bears only points. Foles will still be Chicago's quarterback, but this was a bad first start and wasn't helped by [Head Coach] Matt Nagy's questionable play calling.
The Packers will face the Falcons as part of the Monday Night Football double-header. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:50 p.m. (CT).
Vikings offense found 'blueprint' for success against Texans
Following Sunday's slate of games, ESPN beat reporters offer takeaways for their respective teams around the league.
Courtney Cronin focused in on Minnesota's impressive outing offensively, saying that the unit has "discovered its blueprint for how to win games: feed Cook early and often, and then strike with Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson." Cronin wrote:
Minnesota's win in Houston was the first time the Vikings had two 100-yard receivers and a 100-yard rusher in a game since Nov. 19, 2000 (Cris Carter, Randy Moss and Robert Smith). The Vikings controlled time of possession and were able to respond any time Houston got within striking distance. What we're seeing with Cousins is a level of comfort and trust in his playmakers that hasn't always been there. That will be the key to the offense's success moving forward in being able to carry the rest of the team and close out games.
ESPN's Brady Henderson wrote the following of the Seahawks, whom the Vikings will face on Sunday Night Football this weekend:
The Seahawks defense showed it can cover. That was a big question mark after it allowed an NFL-record 1,292 passing yards over the first three games, something few saw coming after they added Jamal Adams and Quinton Dunbar to their secondary. Seattle's defense produced two interceptions and didn't allow Miami to find the end zone until under two minutes were left. That was without Adams, Dunbar and first-round pick Jordyn Brooks, whose absences provided a test of Seattle's defensive depth. It passed.
Cook again nominated for FedEx Ground Player of the Week
For the second straight week, Cook has been nominated for FedEx Ground Player of the Week after his 130-yard, two-touchdown performance in Houston.
FedEx gives fans the opportunity to recognize top-performing quarterbacks and running backs through the FedEx Air & Ground Awards in games played on Thursday through Sunday. Voting for this week's nominees is open until 2 p.m. (CT) Wednesday at NFL.com/FedEx. Fans can also vote on Twitter the NFL published polls.
Cook was named the FedEx Ground Player of Week 3 after racking up 181 yards and a touchdown against the Titans.
This week, Cook is up against Bengals running back Joe Mixon (151 yards and 2 TDs) and Broncos running back Melvin Gordon (107 yards and 2 TDs).