View game action images as the Vikings take on the Atlanta Falcons at U.S. Bank Stadium.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Vikings started the season in a fury and barely relented in a 28-12 win over the Falcons.
Anthony Barr blitzed on Minnesota’s first snap of 2019 and sacked Matt Ryan out of the gate.
A quick three-and-out was peppered with a punt block by Eric Wilson, who also recovered the ball at the Atlanta 21-yard line.
The Vikings overcame a holding penalty on their first snap with a quick 8-yard pass to Dalvin Cook and struck immediately with a 23-yard touchdown on a pass from Kirk Cousins to Adam Thielen.
The score was Thielen’s 20th of his career and the 130th touchdown pass of Cousins’ career.
Anthony Harris recorded two interceptions, and Dalvin Cook scored twice on the ground, capping each possession that followed the safety’s pickoffs with a rushing TD.
Cook’s scores were part of 28 points off turnovers for Minnesota.
Cousins was efficient through the air, going 8-of-10 passing for 98 yards with one score and a passer rating of 140.8. He hurt the Falcons with his legs, too, with a couple of sneaks that included a 1-yard reach across the goal line, and by moving to by time and make passes.
It was the 12th time in his career to rush for a touchdown and throw for a touchdown in the same game and his second such game with the Vikings.
Thielen led the Vikings with 43 yards on three receptions, and Stefon Diggs added 37 yards on two catches.
Cook rushed 21 times for 111 yards with a long of 22, and rookie Alexander Mattison added 49 yards on nine rushes. The Vikings outgained the Falcons 172-73.
Minnesota’s defense pressured Ryan throughout the game. Ryan finished 33-of-46 passing for 304 yards and two touchdowns for passer rating of 85.8, but much of the damage was done when the game was out of reach.
Ryan was sacked four times, once each by Barr, Everson Griffen, Danielle Hunter and Linval Joseph.
Austin Hooper led Atlanta with 77 yards on 9 catches, but the Vikings limited Julio Jones to 31 yards on six catches (11 targets). Jones caught the Falcons final score, a 2-yard reception.
The Vikings built a 21-0 lead by halftime, even though they only had one more yard of offense in the first half (167 to 166) thanks to three turnovers in the opening 30 minutes.
The average drive start for Minnesota was the Atlanta 35, compared to the Falcons starting on their own 27, in the first half.
Q1, 11:50 remaining
Vikings 7, Falcons 0
Adam Thielen catches a 23-yard pass from Kirk Cousins (Dan Bailey kicks PAT) [2 plays, 21 yards, 1:03 time of possession]
YAC: Thielen worked his way across the field in a 1-on-1 against cornerback Isaiah Oliver and got a step. Cousins had a clean pocket and time to find Thielen, who caught the pass at the 11 and stepped through a diving tackle attempt by Oliver. He muscled in at the goal line through a tackle by Ricardo Allen for 11 yards after the catch and Minnesota’s first score of the 2019 season.
Q1, 8:22 remaining
Vikings 14, Falcons 0
Dalvin Cook rushes for a 19-yard touchdown [4 plays, 41 yards, 1:33]
Thielen more than receivin’: The Vikings began with Thielen on the right side of the formation and put him in motion to the left. He continued around the left edge as Cook took the handoff from Cousins and also headed left. Cook picked up blocks from Chad Beebe and Kyle Rudolph to get to the edge, and Thielen wiped out Oliver on the play. Cook then won a footrace against Keanu Neal.
Q2, 4:40 remaining
Vikings 21, Falcons 0
Cousins rushes for a 1-yard touchdown [10 plays, 79 yards, 5:41]
Capitalized: The Vikings longest drive of the first half was extended with a screen pass to Chad Beebe for a 9-yard gain on third-and-9, a 15-yard pass interference penalty drawn by Thielen and a holding penalty against De’Vondre Campbell on a third-and-8. The Vikings kept it on the ground for the final 46 yards of the drive.
Q3, 0:29 remaining
Vikings 28, Falcons 0
Cook rushes for a 7-yard touchdown (Bailey kicks PAT) [6 plays, 80 yards, 2:39]
On the money: Cousins dropped a beautiful pass right in Stefon Diggs’ hands for a gain of 31, and the explosive play was enhanced with a 15-yard penalty on Allen.
Q4, 9:19 remaining
Vikings 28, Falcons 6
Calvin Ridley catches a 20-yard pass from Matt Ryan (conversion pass no good) [8 plays, 66 yards, 3:16]
Q4, 1:05 remaining
Vikings 28, Falcons 12
Julio Jones catches a 2-yard pass from Ryan (conversion pass no good) [12 plays, 71 yards, 3:23]