The Vikings outlasted the Texans 31-23 on Sunday in Houston for Minnesota's first victory of the 2020 NFL season.
Defensive success in the red zone included a final stand with less than two minutes to go for a short-handed defense that also overcame the disqualification of Harrison Smith.
Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson combined for historic production, and when crunch time hit, the Vikings snapped back.
Mike Zimmer improved to 58-41-1 in his 100th regular-season game as head coach of the Vikings.
Here are three stats that stood out:
1. All In the intermediates
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins enjoyed substantial success on intermediate passes Sunday.
We noted on Friday in Final Thoughts that Cousins had nine completions on passes between 10 and 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage in the first three weeks combined. That included 1-for-1 with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph in Week 3.
On Sunday, however, Cousins was 7-for-9 on such passes, totaling 162 yards and his touchdown pass. The throw to Thielen was officially a 9-yard score, but he was midway into the end zone.
Counterpart Deshaun Watson found much less success on intermediate routes, going 4-for-9 for 72 yards and a touchdown. (The 24-yard score to Will Fuller V was 19 yards beyond the line of scrimmage). Watson, however, did continue a run of foes that have done well on deep passes against Minnesota. He was 3-for-3 for 93 yards and a touchdown (the 24-yarder to Kenny Stills).
According to Next Gen Stats, Cousins' 72.7 completion percentage on the day was 16.2 percentage points higher than the expected rate of 56.6 percent, which was the best performance above expectations in Week 4 (not counting Monday's games).
Watson, however, had an expected completion percentage of 65.1 and an actual rate of 60.6 for a negative of 4.5 percent that was the fifth-lowest in Week 4.
Cousins also led the week in average completed air yards (11.1).
2. Outside the tackles
Cook's best recipe Sunday involved runs outside the tackles.
He headed for the perimeter on 17 of his 27 total rushes (63.0 percent) and gained 91 of his total 130 yards on the ground (70 percent). His 10 carries for 39 yards and another touchdown between the tackles also were solid.
Cook faced a box with eight or more defenders 33 percent of the time (sixth-highest rate in Week 4) and gained 24 yards above what he was expected to gain (seventh-most in Week 4), according to Next Gen Stats.
The Vikings defense was able to limit David Johnson to 63 yards on 16 carries for the day. Johnson faced an 8-man box just 12.5 percent of the time, and his yardage total was 13 below expectations.
3. Going the distance
Thielen recorded the longest play of Week 4 when he found a huge opening in the Texans defense at the Minnesota 45-yard line near Houston's sideline. Thielen then traversed the entire width of the field on his way to the Houston 36.
Next Gen Stats measured his distance traveled at 99.9 yards during the 39-yard gain, the longest play of Week 4.
Bradley Roby, who eventually escorted Thielen out of bounds, covered 63.4 yards for the longest tackle of the week.
Vikings cornerback Jeff Gladney traveled 43.2 yards in tackling Fuller on a 43-yard completion from Watson. That was the 12th-longest tackle of the week.
Defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo recorded the 15th-longest tackle of the week, traveling 42.4 yards to limit Watson to a gain of 1 during a scramble with under two-and-a-half minutes remaining.