The Vikings 28-11 loss to the Colts in Minnesota's first road game of 2020 didn't leave much to write home about.
The offense sputtered in between an opening scoring drive and touchdown on Minnesota's final possession, and the defense struggled to stuff the run. A terrible second quarter lacked complementary football for a second consecutive week, and the bad outweighed a couple of impressive, isolated defensive plays.
Here are three stats that stood out:
1. QB comparison
Two of the most glaring differences on the traditional stat sheet Sunday were the passer ratings and completion percentage contrasts between Vikings QB Kirk Cousins and Colts counterpart Philip Rivers.
Cousins suffered through arguably his worst outing as a starter. He compiled a passer rating of 15.9, a career low out of 90 games. Cousins' passer rating was 0.0 with 5:25 left in the third quarter. He finished 11-of-26 passing for a completion percentage of 42.3 that is the second-lowest of his career and tossed three interceptions.
Rivers' passer rating of 97.8 was almost 23 points higher than the cumulative 74.9 he had totaled in five previous games (since 2010) against defenses led by Head Coach Mike Zimmer. He completed 76 percent of his passes (19 of 25) for 214 yards with one score and an interception on a day when Indianapolis ran the ball 40 times.
According to Next Gen Stats, Cousins' expected completion percentage on the day was 55.5, meaning his completion percentage was 13.2 points lower, the only double-digit negative departure from expectation of Week 2 (not counting Monday's game). Rivers, on the other hand, had an expected completion percentage of 65.9. His outing resulted in 10.1 percentage points above expectation (third highest in Week 2).
2. Ngakoue shows his knack
Vikings newcomer Yannick Ngakoue delivered another splash play against the Colts, a team he faced eight times as a member of the Jaguars.
Ngakoue recorded a strip sack of Rivers on Indianapolis' opening drive of the second quarter. The Colts were able to pounce on the football at their own 21 and prevent a potential momentum shift.
The most impressive aspect of the play was how fast Ngakoue got to Rivers. According to Next Gen Stats, he reached the QB in 2.77 seconds for the fastest sack recorded in Week 2.
Ngakoue now has 7.5 sacks and four forced fumbles in nine games against the Colts. It was encouraging to see the defensive end make an impact play in his first start with Minnesota.
View game action images as the Vikings take on the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.
3. Hang on to the ball
The Vikings had six of their 10 possessions last three or fewer plays, plus another that ended with an interception on the fourth play of the drive.
From 14:53 remaining in the second quarter until 8:47 remained in the game, Minnesota gained just three first downs and had one possession last longer than four minutes (a six-play, 4:02 riff in the third quarter).
The Colts, however, didn't have a single possession last fewer than four plays. An advantage in field position throughout the game enabled Indianapolis to score a touchdown and two field goals on its three four-play drives.
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