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Lunchbreak: Sports Illustrated Takes Stock of Vikings Win Over the Saints

From making two double-digit comebacks in Week 3 to benefiting from a double-doink Sunday, the Vikings have endured a lot the past two weeks.

But Minnesota has emerged with two consecutive victories after escaping London with a 28-25 win against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

Unlike its fourth-quarter rally against the Detroit Lions in Week 3, Minnesota clung to a narrow lead against New Orleans at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium the majority of the game, only to see the Saints tie things up late in the fourth.

The Vikings answered with a field goal by kicker Greg Joseph to go back up 28-25, and the Saints' Wil Lutz's game-tying 61-yarder hit the left upright before ricocheting off the crossbar to seal the victory for Minnesota.

Will Ragatz of Sports Illustrated recently broke down in a stock report some Vikings players and position groups who are on the rise, others who might be falling and some that are staying neutral heading into Week 5.

Two players Ragatz listed as trending up were the wide receiver duo of Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen.

Jefferson bounced back in a big way on Sunday after being limited the past two weeks. He hauled in 10 catches for 147 yards and garnered his first career rushing touchdown on a jet sweep, fitting for someone nicknamed "Jets."

Ragatz wrote:

Jefferson used his elite route-running to create separation against [Saints cornerback Marshon] Lattimore for most of the afternoon. He had a pair of big plays — a 41-yard gain when two Saints defenders collided on an over route and a 39-yard gain on a go route that set up the Vikings' go-ahead field goal. Jefferson did everything for the Vikings in London and got to hit the international Griddy he was hoping for.

Thielen added eight receptions for 72 yards, but Ragatz noted he made key plays when the Vikings needed him to:

[Thielen] was constantly getting open and providing an intermediate target for [quarterback Kirk] Cousins. Each of Thielen's first five catches gained at least 10 yards and moved the chains. He also drew a couple key penalties on the Vikings touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, although both were perhaps generous calls.

On the other side of the ball, Ragatz said third-year cornerback Cameron Dantzler was possibly the Vikings best defensive player throughout the afternoon. He wrote:

[Dantzler] had three pass breakups, one of which should've been an interception, and recorded a tackle for loss. Dantzler's biggest play came just before the 2-minute warning when he dove to break up a deep pass intended for [Saints receiver] Chris Olave. If he doesn't make that play, the game could've ended quite differently.

Ragatz listed Minnesota's offensive line as trending down. After three solid performances to start the season, Ragatz said the Vikings O-line took "a step back" on Sunday:

Both [left tackle Christian] Darrisaw and [right tackle Brian] O'Neill were beaten cleanly in pass protection at times; it was surprising to see O'Neill whiff as badly as he did against [Saints defensive end] Cameron Jordan on a second-quarter sack.

As a whole, it wasn't a great day for the O-line. There wasn't much running room for [running back] Dalvin Cook and the Saints were frequently able to pressure Cousins while rushing four.

Ragatz placed Cousins in the "stock neutral" category. Cousins completed 25 of his 38 pass attempts for 273 yards and a touchdown. He also threw an interception and was sacked three times.

Ragatz wrote:

This was an up-and-down game for Cousins, which is why he lands in this section. He threw an interception to [Saints safety] Tyrann Mathieu late in the first quarter and didn't see an open Jefferson in the end zone in the third.

However, Cousins turned it into a positive day by hitting Jefferson with a perfectly-placed go ball late in the fourth quarter, setting up the Vikings game-winning field goal.

CBS Sports Gives Out Grades for Week 4

The Vikings maintained their perfect record overseas (4-0 in exhibition games, 3-0 in regular season) with another thrilling chapter to their history against the New Orleans Saints.

John Breech of CBS Sports recently analyzed every game on Sunday from Week 4 and provided gradesfor each team. Breech gave the Vikings a B- for their game. He wrote:

The Vikings definitely weren't perfect in London — they struggled in the red zone, Kirk Cousins threw an interception, there was a missed extra point and even a few dropped passes — but in the end, they came up with big plays on both sides of the ball whenever they need them.

The Vikings also forced two turnovers — one on defense and one on special teams — and they were able to convert that into six points, which ended up making a huge difference in a game that went down to the wire.