The Minnesota Vikings started two rookies in the secondary and lost safety Harrison Smith before halftime, but Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans were unable to take advantage, falling to 0-4 on the season. Minnesota improved to 1-3.
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Story of the Game
Vikings offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak made a concerted effort to get Dalvin Cook the football early and often. In the first half alone, Cook touched the ball 16 times for 71 total yards and two touchdowns. Minnesota stuck to a ball-control approach on offense, keeping Watson next to the Gatorade cooler.
The Texans offense sorely misses DeAndre Hopkins. Entering this game, the Vikings defense ranked ninth in passing yards allowed through three games (978). While Hopkins leads the NFL in targets, catches and receiving yards through three weeks, all four Houston wideouts combined for nine catches, 179 yards and two TDs on Sunday.
One of the biggest differences in this game was situational football. While Houston failed to collect seven points on any of its red zone possessions, including 10 plays at the goal line, the Vikings offense came away with four TDs and a field goal.
When defenders sucked up to the line of scrimmage to stop Cook, Kirk Cousins took plenty of opportunities to pull the ball back and look for deep completions. Cousins kept his eyes downfield with an average depth of target of 13.7 yards despite being pressured on 34.6% of his dropbacks.
Thrust into the starting lineup for the injured Mike Hughes, third-round pick Cameron Dantzler lined up at wide corner on the other side of first-round pick Jeff Gladney. Targeted 12 times with 79 snaps in coverage, the duo combined to allow seven completions, 112 yards receiving and one TD.
First-round wide receiver Justin Jefferson looks like a terror with back-to-back weeks of 100 or more yards receiving. All four of his catches on Sunday went for 15 or more yards.
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