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5 Takeaways: Vikings Fall Flat in Home Loss to Falcons

MINNEAPOLIS — There's been plenty of frustration this season for the Vikings.

But perhaps none more so than in the first half of Sunday's disappointing home loss to the Falcons, as Minnesota came out flat in what was perhaps its worst half of the season in 2020.

The Vikings eventually lost 40-23, mostly due to a first half that featured plenty of miscues on both sides of the ball and resulted in a 20-zip deficit.

The dismal first-half showing was amplified by a trio of interceptions by Kirk Cousins, including one on the Vikings very first play of the game. That led to a quick Falcons score and a 7-0 lead for Atlanta.

Minnesota's next two drives went three-and-out, as the Vikings first seven plays totaled just 10 yards.

The Vikings lost the time-of-possession battle, too, as Atlanta held the ball for 20 minutes and 29 seconds in the opening half. Minnesota controlled the ball for just 9:31.

All in all, the Falcons scored 17 points off turnovers in the first half. The Vikings didn't convert a single third-down try and had just 130 yards of offense.

Atlanta had 226 yards of offense in the first two quarters.

The Vikings are now 1-5 on the season and have their bye week in Week 7. Atlanta is also 1-5 after getting its first win in 2020.

View game action images as the Vikings take on the Falcons on Sunday.

Here are four more takeaways from Sunday:

1. Trouble on 3rd downs

The Vikings defense entered Sunday's contest ranked first in the league with an allowed success rate of 27.78 percent on third downs (15/54).

But Minnesota's defense had little answer for an Atlanta offense that entered the game ranked 23rd in the league with a success rate of 40.58 percent.

The Falcons converted nine of 17 times on third downs, as the Vikings defense had its worst showings on third downs this season.

Atlanta was 5-of-8 in the first half, and 7-of-10 at one point during the third quarter.

The Vikings converted just three times on 10 total third downs on Sunday.

2. The JJs shine on offense

Justin Jefferson was one of the lone bright spots for the Vikings offense against the Falcons.

The rookie wide receiver continued the strong start to his career, as he hauled in nine catches for 166 yards and two touchdowns.

Jefferson had a pair of second-half scores, from 11 and 49 yards out. He recorded his third 100-yard game of the season.

Jefferson now has 28 catches for 537 yards and three touchdowns in 2020 after being the 22nd overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

The Falcons own former first-round wide receiver — Julio Jones — also had a big day.

Jones, who didn't play in Week 5, had eight catches for 137 yards and two scores. Jones had touchdown receptions of 20 and 40 yards against the Vikings.

3. Stopped again on 4th-and-1

Much like Week 4, the Vikings were in a fourth-and-1 situation again in Week 5. This one also fell short.

Down 10-0 early in the second quarter, the Vikings had first-and-goal from the 2. Alexander Mattison lost a yard, then gained two before an incomplete pass.

That set up fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Mike Boone was stuffed short.

Minnesota later converted a fourth-down pass in the third quarter, finishing 1-for-2 on fourth downs on Sunday.

The Vikings have now converted on four of eight fourth downs in 2020. Minnesota was 8-for-15 on fourth downs in 2019.

4. Mattison, Cleveland make 1st NFL starts

Alexander Mattison and Ezra Cleveland were college teammates at Boise State, and also shared a memorable moment against the Falcons.

Mattison made his first NFL start at running back in place of Dalvin Cook, who did not play with a groin injury. Mattison had 10 carries for 26 yards, with a long of 16.

Cleveland, meanwhile, also made his first NFL start on the same day.

The 2020 second-round pick started at right guard in place of Dru Samia, who was inactive with a wrist injury.

Mattison and Cleveland were teammates in 2017 and 2018 at Boise State. Over those two seasons, Cleveland helped Mattison rush for 2,501 yards and 29 touchdowns.