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Early Look: Vikings and Texans Looking For 1st Victory

EAGAN, Minn. — Entering Week 4, there are six teams across the league who sit at 0-3.

A pair of them — the Vikings and Texans — are scheduled to square off Sunday in Houston.

Minnesota had the lead at halftime — and in the third and fourth quarters — in Week 3, but eventually fell short in a 31-30 loss to the Titans.

Houston had the lead at halftime and at the start of the fourth quarter, but couldn't hold on in a 28-21 road loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Here's an Early Look at the Vikings Week 4 matchup against the Texans, presented by Minnesota Eye Consultants, the Proud Ophthalmology Partner of the Minnesota Vikings.

Passing: Kirk Cousins displayed both highs and lows in Sunday's loss. He completed 16 of 27 passes (59.2 percent) for 251 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. His passer rating was 96.4.

Perhaps Cousins' best play of the day was a 16-yard touchdown pass to Adam Thielen in which the quarterback eluded pressure and fired a dart in the end zone. The quarterback also developed a strong rapport with rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who raised eyebrows and his reviews across the league.

But Cousins also threw an interception on the first play of the second half, and the Vikings offense stalled in the final portions of the third and fourth quarters as Minnesota coughed up the lead.

Cousins has completed 46 of 78 passes (59.0 percent) for 623 yards with five touchdowns and a league-high six interceptions. His passer rating of 73.8 ranks 30th among the 33 quarterbacks who have started at least two games in 2020.

Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson completed 19 of 27 passes (70.3 percent) for 264 yards with two touchdowns and an interception against the Steelers. His passer rating was 110.7.

Watson has completed 64 of 95 passes (67.4 percent) for 792 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions thus far in 2020.

The 12th overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, Watson is 24-16 in his career as a starter.

Rushing: Dalvin Cook went off Sunday, rushing 22 times for a career-high 181 yards. His lone touchdown run came from 39 yards out.

Cook's big day was highlighted by his effort and fluidness in getting to the second level. According to NFL's NextGen Stats, Cook was only expected to gain 76 yards on his 22 attempts. Therefore, his 105 rushing yards over expected led the league in Week 3.


Cook ranks third in the NFL with 294 rushing yards and is tied for the league lead with four rushing scores. Alexander Mattison added 27 yards on eight attempts Sunday.

The Vikings, who ran for 226 total yards in Week 3, rank eighth in the NFL at 146.7 rushing yards per game.

David Johnson had just 23 yards on 13 rushing attempts for Houston on Sunday, with Watson (five yards) and C.J. Prosise (one yard) each getting one rush.

Johnson has 35 attempts for 134 yards and two scores through three games, while Watson has added 49 rushing yards and a score on 12 total rushes.

Houston ranks 31st at just 66.0 rushing yards per game.

Receiving: Jefferson showed why he was a first-round pick in Week 3, hauling in seven catches for 175 yards and a touchdown.

The rookie had six catches for 104 yards at halftime, and then found the end zone for the first time in his career on a 71-yard score in the third quarter.

ESPN analyst Matt Bowen highlighted one of Jefferson's best catches against the Titans.

Thielen added 29 yards on three catches, including the 16-yard score. Kyle Rudolph had two catches for 11 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown with one hand.

Jefferson (245 yards and a score) is tied with Thielen (170 yards and three touchdowns) for the team lead with 12 receptions.

Randall Cobb (95 yards) and Will Fuller (54 yards) each had four catches and a touchdown reception Sunday against the Steelers. Kenny Stills added three catches for 35 yards, and Brandin Cooks added three receptions for 23 yards.

Watson has spread the ball around in 2020. Fuller has a team-high 12 catches for 166 yards and a score. Cobb has a team-high 177 yards on 11 catches, and tight end Jordan Akins also has 11 catches for 122 yards and a touchdown. Cooks has 10 receptions for 138 yards in three games.

Defense: The Vikings defense had an up-and-down performance Sunday and ultimately couldn't hold onto a fourth-quarter lead.

Minnesota allowed scoring drives on Tennessee's final five possessions (before two kneel-downs to end the game). The Vikings allowed 444 yards to the Titans, who kicked six field goals, three in each half.

Harrison Smith recorded his first interception of 2020 and 24th of his career. Yannick Ngakoue notched a strip-sack for the second straight week, but the Titans recovered the football.

Minnesota has allowed at least 350 total yards in each game in 2020 and has allowed a total of 1,320 yards. The Vikings rank 30th in allowing 440 yards per game against opponents that are a combined 8-1 on the season.

The Texans rank 23rd in that category, as Houston has allowed 387.7 yards per game. The Texans have played the Chiefs, Ravens and Steelers, who are a combined 8-1.

Houston allowed 387 total yards to Pittsburgh. Carlos Watkins and Charles Omenihu each recorded a sack against the Steelers.

Omenihu and J.J. Watt are tied for the team lead with 2.0 sacks each. Houston has not recorded an interception in 2020.

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of January 4, 2021.

Special Teams: Dan Bailey made one of two field goals Sunday, and was true on all three extra points. Bailey is now 3-for-4 on field goals in 2020, and has made all four extra point attempts.

Britton Colquitt averaged 44.0 yards per punt on three kicks and had a long of 53. He is averaging 42.2 yards per punt on nine kicks in 2020.

With K.J. Osborn inactive, Ameer Abdullah handled kickoff return duties and had 27 yards on two returns. Chad Beebe had two fair catches as the punt returner.

Texans kicker Kai'imi Fairbairn made all three extra points Sunday. He is now 3-for-4 on field goals in 2020, and has made all six extra point attempts.

Bryan Anger punted six teams against the Steelers, averaging 48.5 yards with a long of 58. He's averaging 46.2 yards per attempt.

DeAndre Carter handles return duties for the Texans. He had three kickoff returns for 57 yards Sunday, along with 16 yards on a pair of punt returns.

He is averaging 11.3 yards per punt return, and 20.0 yards per kickoff return thus far.

Reaching a milestone

The head coaches in Sunday's game will each reach a milestone in their careers.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and Texans Head Coach Bill O'Brien were each hired by their respective teams in 2014. Both will coach their 100th regular-season games on Sunday.

Zimmer is 57-41-1 in his first 99 games. He has led the Vikings to three playoff appearances and a pair of NFC North titles.

O'Brien is 52-47 in the same span with four AFC South titles (and four playoff berths).