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The only thing you can say about the Vikings’ season opener is that they dominated the New Orleans Saints in every facet of the game. Sam Bradford completed 27 of 32 passes for 346 yards. (That’s an 84.4% completion percentage and a QB rating of 143.) Stefon Diggs caught 7 passes, including 2 for touchdowns, worth 93 yards. What’s frightening is that he wasn’t the best wideout on the field for the Vikings. That was Adam Thielen. Thielen walked on at D-3 Minnesota State, Mankato. Then he wasn’t drafted so he tried out for the Vikings. He spent his rookie season on the practice squad. Tonight, Thielen caught 9 passes worth 157 yards.

Rumor has it that former Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was in the house tonight. Rumor also has it that future Hall of Fame QB Drew Brees was in the house tonight, too. Adrian’s first run was his longest of the night. It was for 9 yards. Brees played valiantly but it wasn’t nearly enough. He didn’t throw for a touchdown until New Orleans had all but officially lost.

The national media played up the Adrian Peterson vs. Dalvin Cook matchup. That wasn’t fair … to Adrian. While Adrian rushed for 18 yards on 6 carries, Dalvin Cook ran the ball 22 times for 127 yards, including a 33-yard run on third-and-7 that sealed the game:

The other major story from tonight’s season opener was the Vikings’ offensive line play. They protected Sam Bradford. They opened holes for Dalvin Cook. You know the line is playing well when the QB completes 85% of his passes and 8 of those completions were for more than 20 yards. The Vikings ran the ball 28 times and averaged 4.7 yards-per-carry. There were lots of Vikings fans that worried how they’d play. I’m one of them.

The offensive line had 5 new starters. Berger moved from center to right guard to make room for Ohio State rookie Pat Elflein. It’s easy to see why the Vikings traded up in this year’s draft to pick him. That kid’s got lots of Pro Bowls in his future. The free agent tackles played well at times, though Remmers still had some unsteady moments. LT Riley Rieff played a strong game.

The thing that’s obvious is that this unit is significantly more athletic than any offensive line during the Zimmer era. During the game, they flashed a graphic that said tonight’s opening game was the first time those 5 players played together. It certainly didn’t look that way.

Notice what I haven’t mentioned thus far. I haven’t mentioned the Vikings defense. That isn’t because they didn’t play well. There’s no denying that Brees was fairly productive. He threw for 273 yards and a late touchdown. Everson Griffen got the Vikings only sack of the night. That doesn’t come close to telling the story, though. The Vikings’ secondary contested every throw Brees made. The defensive line surrounded Brees much of the night. Brees felt claustrophobic all night, like he was throwing from inside a phone booth.

Next up for the Vikings are the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh. Let the trash-talking begin.

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2 Responses to “Vikings dominate Saints”

  • Chad Q says:

    Sure they looked impressive but they were playing the Saints, a beefier version of the Eden Prairie HS team. This team went 5-0 last year and then imploded so I wouldn’t get too excited about 1 game against the 31st ranked defense from last year.

  • Gary Gross says:

    Nawlins has more defensive talent than you think. Rankins & Jordan are Pro Bowl quality linemen. It won’t take long for A.J. Klein to turn into a quality MLB & their secondary is improving. If you watch the tape, some of Sam’s completions came when he had lots of time, which means the corners had to cover Thielen & Diggs for 4+ seconds. Other of Sam’s completions, especially Thielen’s 2nd chunk play, came when the DB had near-perfect coverage & Sam dropped the ball in perfect.

    The o-line was a major improvement over last year but they still have things to work on. Cook did something Monday night that AP never did: pick up a blitz. The kid’s got talent.

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