The Minnesota Vikings delivered in the first leg of a Monday Night Football doubleheader with a 29-19 win over the New Orleans Saints. Sam Bradford was incredible with 346 passing yards and three touchdowns, while Stefon Diggs did a quality Randy Moss impression on the same night the legend was added to the Vikings’ Ring of Honor. Adrian Peterson’s debut with New Orleans wasn’t so successful as he lost to his former team.
Final score: Vikings 29, Saints 19
Vikings 29, Saints 19: The Saints’ onside kick was unsuccessful as Kyle Rudolph batted the loose ball out of bounds. They may get the ball back by forcing a three-and-out, but time is running out.
Vikings 29, Saints 19: Here come the Saints!!! It’s probably too little, too late, though, as New Orleans’ first touchdown of the game came inside the two-minute warning. Watching Drew Brees with a sense of urgency is always a lot of fun, but New Orleans needed to capitalize on its chances earlier in the game to avoid such a big hole.
Vikings 29, Saints 12: New Orleans badly needed a stop trailing by two scores, but the Vikings were able to milk nearly four minutes off the clock with an eight-play, 48-yard drive. Kai Forbath hit his third field goal of the game, this time from 45 yards, to extend the lead back to three scores. Sam Bradford (and that coach behind him) is very much enjoying the whole experience:
Vikings 26, Saints 12: In a wholly unsurprising development, Drew Brees is doing his best to keep the Saints in this one with some big passes. However, the team’s struggling red zone offense just can’t get it together.
On third-and-goal at the 3-yard line, New Orleans brought in Adrian Peterson, but he was being used as a decoy for a play action. It didn’t work, and Sean Payton again settled for a Will Lutz chip shot. It’s great for anyone who owns Lutz in fantasy, but not so much for the Saints’ chances of coming back in this one.
Vikings 26, Saints 9: Sam Bradford’s red hot night continued with a touchdown pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph to complete a nine-play, 89-yard drive. Rudolph hasn’t been involved in the passing game a ton Monday, but he was a key red zone target for Bradford last season. That still appears to be the case, even as the offense leans on Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. Bradford is up to 308 yards and three touchdowns in the game, giving flashbacks to OU fans around the country.
Vikings 19, Saints 9: New Orleans badly needed a jolt, and got it when Drew Brees found Tommylee Lewis for a 52-yard bomb. However, the Vikings’ defense again held firm in the red zone, stopping the Saints on three straight plays to force another Wil Lutz field goal. These missed opportunities could really cost them in the end.
Vikings 19, Saints 6: It’s not totally clear what was going on here, but Adrian Peterson could be seen on the sideline jawing at Sean Payton in the third quarter until the coach turned around to acknowledge him. Peterson only has five carries, while Mark Ingram has gotten six, so that could be the source of his frustration.
Vikings 19, Saints 6: Stefon Diggs continued his fantastic night with a 30-yard catch that led to another Kai Forbath field goal. It’s been an incredible night for Sam Bradford, who has completed 19 of 23 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns. He’s been the better quarterback in this game, which is a bit surprising considering the other team has a future Hall of Famer.
Halftime: Vikings 16, Saints 6
Vikings 16, Saints 6: The Saints used their timeouts hoping to get one last shot at the ball before the half, but instead it just gave the Vikings extra time to work after a big play to Adam Thielen put them in field goal range.
Stefon Diggs then showed off with two stunning catches to finish off the drive. The first put the Vikings inside the 10-yard line. The second came in the end zone with a defender hanging on him. There were just seven seconds on the clock when Minnesota turned to Diggs on third-and-goal. He continued channeling his inner Randy Moss, first with the touchdown, then by punting the ball to celebrate:
Kai Forbath missed the extra point after hitting his first attempt of the night. Last season in seven games with Minnesota, Forbath was a perfect 15-of-15 on field goal attempts, but just 11-of-14 on extra points.
Vikings 10, Saints 6: Minnesota’s offense came alive with a quick drive for the game’s first touchdown. Sam Bradford needed to complete just three passes to go 74 yards for the score. Legendary receiver Randy Moss will inducted into the Vikings’ Ring of Honor at halftime, so Stefon Diggs did a Moss-inspired celebration after crossing the goal line.
It’s not quite “mooning the fans” good, but we’ll take it.
Saints 6, Vikings 3: Drew Brees led the Saints back into the red zone with a number of completions, including a 24-yarder to Coby Fleener, but couldn’t capitalize with a touchdown. The drive started when Vikings lineman Tom Johnson got busted for roughing the passer. Will Lutz hit a 21-yard field goal to put New Orleans back ahead.
However, New Orleans may have been dealt a major blow during the series as offensive tackle Zach Streif left the game with an injury.
Let’s see how everyone is feeling about the action so far:
Football is back, baby!!
Saints 3, Vikings 3: New Orleans committed two 15-yard penalties that helped serve up Minnesota’s first points of the game. Safety Marcus Williams made a rookie mistake by hitting wideout Stefon Diggs after he had gone out of bounds for the first penalty, then linebacker Alex Anzalone got whistled for unnecessary roughness two plays later.
It’s understandable to be excited for the first reps of the season, but the Saints will want to rein things in. The red zone stop is a good start.
Saints 3, Vikings 0: New Orleans didn’t waste any time getting Adrian Peterson involved on offense. He carried for 9 yards on the first play of the game to jumpstart New Orleans to a 12-play, 56-yard drive that ended with a 43-yard field goal by Wil Lutz. Mark Ingram also got some work as Sean Payton worked in his different weapons to challenge the defense, although things stalled in the red zone.
Before the game
The Minnesota Vikings open up their 2017 season playing host to the New Orleans Saints on the season premiere of Monday Night Football, featuring Adrian Peterson’s return to Minnesota after signing with the Saints in free agency. This is the first game of the annual doubleheader taking place on ESPN with the kickoff scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET. It will also be streamed live at WatchESPN.
The Vikings are coming off a disappointing 8-8 season, missing the playoffs despite starting off 5-0. An anemic offense was largely to blame for the second-half fade, so Minnesota added fresh faces to its running game, signing Latavius Murray and drafting Dalvin Cook in the second round. Cook earned the starting job in the preseason and appears as if he’ll a major early role in his rookie year. The Vikings also revamped the offensive line, swapping out Matt Kalil for Riley Reiff at left tackle and signing Mike Remmers to play on the right side.
Sam Bradford returns after having a full offseason with the offense, a luxury he didn’t have last year after getting traded from the Philadelphia Eagles two weeks before the season began. Bradford set the NFL’s single-season completion record at 71.6 percent, while throwing for 20 touchdowns with just five interceptions. He won’t be asked to do much more than keep the offense on schedule, with the Vikings returning an elite defense filled with playmakers like Xavier Rhodes, Harrison Smith, Everson Griffen, and Danielle Hunter.
The Saints went 7-9 for the third season in a row, and there’s an increased sense of urgency with Drew Brees not getting any younger. They retooled their weapons on offense, adding Peterson and Ted Ginn while trading Brandin Cooks to the New England Patriots. Peterson is 32 years old and coming off multiple knee surgeries, so we’ll learn just how much he has left in the tank. The offense will be without Willie Snead, who is suspended the first three games of the season.
The defense has long been the Saints’ biggest Achilles heel, and once again they tried to upgrade it in the offseason. First-round cornerback Marshon Lattimore should provide an immediate boost to the secondary, while linebacker Manti Te’o was added in free agency. The Saints will be missing Nick Fairley, who was placed on the reserve/NFI list with a career-threatening heart condition. He was one of the few bright spots on this defense last year.
With Brees still dealing at age 38 and the game being played in a dome, there is plenty of potential for offense fireworks in this game, even with the Vikings’ defense expected to remain stout. Both teams are flawed, but have the talent to make a playoff push if the pieces fall together. Getting off to a strong start in Week 1 is the top priority here.
AP will always be one of the greatest football players I have ever seen in person. I won't be at the game on Monday, but if I was at US Bank Stadium, I'd stand and applaud him when he was introduced. My ovation would be for his incredible accomplishments and the lifelong memories he provided Vikings fans during his decade in Minnesota; nothing more, nothing less.
Entering their matchup against the Vikings, there’s a lot of things that could fall the Saints way. However, being cautiously optimistic or even slightly guarded heading into this game is completely fair. You want to buy into the whole ‘Saints have gotten better on defense’ claims, but in reality there’s plenty of things that could go south very quickly.