View game action photos from the Vikings game against the Cleveland Browns at U.S. Bank Stadium.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Vikings scored a touchdown on their opening drive for the third consecutive week, but didn't put up any points the rest of the way in a 14-7 loss to the Browns Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
By going scoreless in the game's final 52:26, Minnesota fell to 1-3. The three losses are by a combined 11 points. Cleveland improved to 3-1.
Just like the two previous losses that opened the 2021 season, the final two minutes of the first half proved detrimental for the Vikings, who allowed the Browns to score 11 of their 14 points inside the 2-minute warning.
That makes 35 points allowed — out of 92 this season — in the final two minutes of first halves.
Kirk Cousins found Justin Jefferson on a 12-yard touchdown to cap an efficient first possession.
The pass was the 100th touchdown thrown by Cousins as a Viking and the 10th caught for a score by Jefferson. It was Cousins' 199th of his career.
The Vikings extended the possession with a 2-yard run by C.J. Ham on fourth-and-1 and overcame a penalty in the red zone. Cousins appeared to initially finish the drive with an 8-yard pass to Jefferson, but he had crossed the line of scrimmage before letting the ball go.
Cleveland put its first points on the board after getting eight goal-to-go snaps.
The sequence began with a holding penalty against the Browns that changed a first-and-goal from the 5 to a first-and-goal from the 15. Cleveland quickly erased the infraction with a 12-yard pass to Rashard Higgins on the next snap.
Second-and-goal from the 3 resulted in an incompletion on a pass to Odell Beckham, Jr., with Cameron Dantzler in coverage. Third-and-goal was a gain of 1 after Michael Pierce made initial contact with Nick Chubb in the backfield. Pierce left the game during the sequence with an elbow injury.
The Vikings used their second timeout of the first half with 1:33 remaining in the first half. A pass on fourth-and-goal initially fell incomplete, but Eric Kendricks was flagged for an iffy holding call in the end zone.
That placed the ball at the 1 with a fresh set of downs. An incompletion was followed by a run for no gain that was stopped by Nick Vigil. The Vikings used their third timeout of the first half with 1:19 remaining, and Hunt scored on the following play.
Minnesota was then assessed a penalty on the extra point attempt when officials announced the Vikings had tried to call a fourth timeout.
After the delay of game, Cleveland opted to go for a 2-point conversion, and Baker Mayfield delivered an easy toss to a wide open Andy Janovich for an 8-7 lead.
Minnesota's aggressiveness in using timeouts, along with the offense's inability to pick up a first down resulted in Cleveland getting the ball back with 45 seconds left in the first half.
An intentional grounding penalty opened the Browns possession, but Cleveland stayed on the field by picking up a third-and-20 with a 33-yard run by Hunt on draw play. The Browns followed an 11-yard pass to Rashard Higgins to move the ball from the Cleveland 26-yard line to the Minnesota 30.
The 44 yards gained in two plays burned just 14 seconds, allowing Cleveland to move into range for a 48-yard field goal by Chase McLaughlin.
After a stalemate in the third quarter, McLaughlin gave Cleveland the final margin with a 53-yard field goal.
The Vikings had three possessions after the field goal. The first ended with an interception on the first snap on a deep pass to Adam Thielen. The pick by Greedy Williams ended Cousins' franchise record for attempts without an interception.
Minnesota drove to the Cleveland 33 on the next drive after Dalvin Cook returned to the field and began the possession with a 13-yard run.
The Vikings made it to the 26-yard line with three seconds left but Cousins' final toss fell incomplete.
He finished 20-of-38 passing with 203 yards and a passer rating of 66.0, which snapped a streak of 17 games with a passer rating of 90 or higher.
Mayfield also struggled, going 15-of-33 passing for 155 yards and a passer rating of 59.5.
The big difference was that Cleveland rushed for 184 yards, and Minnesota finished with 65 yards on the ground.
One week after tying his career high with 112 yards on the ground, Alexander Mattison finished with 20 yards on 10 carries. Cook didn't play much in his return to action and finished with 34 rushing yards on nine carries.
Cleveland possessed the football for 35:32.
Q1, 7:26 remaining
Vikings 7, Browns 0
Justin Jefferson catches a 12-yard pass from Kirk Cousins (Greg Joseph kicks PAT) [14 plays, 75 yards, 7:34 time of possession]
Hot start: Cousins went 6-for-6 with 59 yards on the opening drive.
Q2, 1:16 remaining
Browns 8, Vikings 7
Kareem Hunt rushes for 1-yard (Andy Janovich catches 2-point conversion pass from Baker Mayfield) [18 plays, 64 yards, 8:39 time of possession]
Q2, 0:02 remaining
Browns 11, Vikings 7
Chase McLaughlin kicks a 48-yard field goal [8 plays, 34 yards, 0:43 time of possession]
Third-and-20: The Browns did their greatest damage during the 2-minute drill with a 33-yard run by Hunt on a draw play that converted a third-and-20.
Q4, 6:16 remaining
Browns 14, Vikings 7
McLaughlin kicks a 53-yard field goal [7 plays, 36 yards, 3:29 time of possession]
Drive starter: Mayfield opened the drive that started at the Cleveland 30 with a 24-yard pass to Beckham. The Browns netted 12 yards on their next five plays but were able to get the 3-pointer from McLaughlin, who spent part of 2020 with Minnesota.