Vikings’ late-game collapse spoils big day for Justin Jefferson, offense – NFL Nation
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings finally found some offensive firepower three weeks into the season, but a day that featured a breakout performance by rookie receiver Justin Jefferson and a career-high outing for running back Dalvin Cook was spoiled by 55-yard field goal, resulting in a 31-30 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
The Vikings are off to their first 0-3 start since the 2013 season and have back-to-back road games upcoming in Houston and Seattle.
Late-game collapse: The 2020 season is going to be a long one for the Vikings defense, which allowed 444 yards, including 119 yards rushing to Derrick Henry. That ties the sixth-most yards put up on a Mike Zimmer defense.
Minnesota was in bend-don’t-break territory throughout the first two quarters, holding Tennessee to nine points at the half, but gave up big pass plays, including gains of 38, 44 and 61 yards that allowed for a shootout to ensue. The Vikings were again in the red in time of possession (28:28) sparked by the defense struggling to get off the field in the second half and the offense sputtering late in the game.
Minnesota couldn’t overcome three turnovers, and the last drive for the offense with 1:44 down by one was especially painful. Starting at their own 25-yard line, the Vikings were bailed out by a roughing-the-passer penalty and given a fresh set of downs. What ensued would prevent Minnesota setting itself up for a being in field goal territory to win the game. Kirk Cousin threw an incomplete pass, fumbled the snap for a 14-yard loss, threw another incomplete pass and then an interception on his final play of the game.
Silver lining?: The one positive Minnesota can take away from this loss is how strong the offense performed for most of the game.
Cousins struggled to connect with any of his playmakers outside of Adam Thielen in Weeks 1 and 2. While the Pro Bowl receiver helped the Vikings build up a first-half lead off a 16-yard touchdown, Cousins’ connection with Jefferson set up that score (a 31-yard reception while lined up outside) and seemingly broke the game open. Jefferson’s his first NFL touchdown went for 71 yards in the third quarter, but he wasn’t alone.
Minnesota leaned heavily on running back Cook, who rushed for a career-high 181 yards and the team’s first touchdown. The Vikings’ go-ahead score in the fourth quarter came when Cousins found tight end Kyle Rudolph in the back of the end zone. Uncovered, Rudolph made a leaping one-handed catch with his left arm, his third one-handed receiving touchdown since the start of the season. No other player has more that one in that same time frame, according to ESPN Stats and Information.