There was a lot to like about the Vikings in their Week 3 loss, as Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook both had career games, and the Vikings defense was stout on third downs.
But the final 31-30 outcome left plenty to be desired as Minnesota fell to 0-3. The Vikings couldn't protect halftime, third and fourth-quarter leads.
John Breech of CBS Sports handed out grades to NFL teams for their Week 3 performances, and gave the Vikings a ‘B’ grade for Sunday's game against the Titans.
View game action images as the Vikings take on the Titans ton Sunday.
Let's start with the good news for Minnesota: Justin Jefferson is a bona fide weapon. The rookie receiver was nearly unstoppable against the Titans, catching seven passes for 175 yards and a touchdown. It was the kind of spark the Vikings offense needed after struggling through the first two weeks of the season.
The bad news for the Vikings is that Jefferson was about the only spark they had. Although Dalvin Cook had a huge game (181 yards), he also lost a fumble in the first half. Defensively, the Vikings had no answers for a Titans offense that rolled up more than 440 yards.
Jefferson's 71-yard touchdown was the first of his career. The 22nd overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft was heavily featured in the Vikings offense, as he played 51 of 65 offensive snaps (78 percent).
Cook, meanwhile, rushed for 181 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. He has at least one rushing touchdown in every game this season.
The running back has been nominated for the FedEx Ground Player of Week 3 for his big day. Fans can vote for Cook here.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Vikings became the first team in NFL history to have both a player with 175-plus rushing yards and a player with 175-plus receiving yards in the same game.
But the Vikings couldn't close out the Titans, and as Jelani Scott of NFL.com pointed out, the late sputters put the Vikings in an early hole in the NFC North.
For two and a half quarters, the Vikings put together the bounce-back effort they needed. A monster 71-yard TD toss to rookie Justin Jefferson (7/175/1), who turned in a star-making effort, gave them a 12-point lead midway through the third. Their next drive ended with a quick three-and-out, bringing a defense that just endured a bruising [Derrick] Henry push back on the field. They lost their lead just 1:17 later. Kirk Cousins (251/3/2 INTs), with massive help from Cook and his absurd career day (22/181/1), did lead a lengthy TD drive to regain the lead, but it wasn't enough as Minnesota fell to 0-3 for the first time under Mike Zimmer.
Through three weeks, the Vikings sit at the bottom of their division. The Packers and Bears are both 3-0, while the Lions are 1-2 after getting their first win on Sunday.
Rudolph gets shoutout from Carter for 1-handed TD
Kyle Rudolph's first touchdown catch of 2020 looked familiar. And a Vikings Legend in the Pro Football Hall of Fame took notice.
The tight end made another ridiculous one-handed catch in the end zone Sunday, which recalled memories of his one-handed scores on the road in Dallas and Seattle during the 2019 season.
Former Vikings wide receiver Cris Carter, a Hall of Famer who is also in the Vikings Ring of Honor, gave Rudolph a shoutout on Twitter.
Rudolph now has 48 career touchdown catches, 40 of which have come inside the red zone.
Carter is the Vikings all-time leader in catches (1,004), yards (12,383) and touchdown catches (110).
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