Those cursed Seahawks. Those wretched ospreys. They finally were outmatched by Minnesota. For the first time in 4,326 moons, the Vikings celebrated a win over Seattle.
Sunday’s victory, which Mike Zimmer touted as the best offensive performance he’s seen in his stretch as head coach, ended an 11-year, 10-month and four-day drought dealt by the Hawks.
Brett Favre was responsible for Minnesota’s last win against Seattle — November 22, 2009 — before Kirk Cousins ushered a packed and animated U.S. Bank Stadium into ecstasy.
It was the picturesque return to capacity for the Vikings faithful; a stunning display of keep away which resuscitated a team that had been heartbroken in Weeks 1 and 2.
Minnesota trailed by as many as 10 in the first half — Russell Wilson connected early with D.K. Metcalf, kicker Jason Meyers drilled a 53-yarder and Chris Carson avoided contact on a 30-yard burst to paydirt — but stuck to its muscle, and flexed a balanced attack that overcame the absence of superstar back Dalvin Cook, who was made inactive because of an ankle injury.
Cook’s replacement, Alexander Mattison, more than held his own. Cousins got the usual suspects, Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, and even tight end Tyler Conklin involved in the red zone. And, to Vikings fans’ delight, Minnesota’s defense capitalized on an out-of-sync opponent that spent more than 35 minutes — and 22 1/2 in the second half — on the sideline.
In the end, Zimmer’s bunch scored 23 straight points. No, it doesn’t avenge the last decade, the seven defeats in a row, or the cold pain of a certain 10-9 Wild-Card round demise.
But it freshens the script and gives the Vikings an entree to compete in the NFC this season.
Let’s draw back the curtains on Minnesota’s 30-17 win:
PLAYER OF THE GAME
It’s time to put some respect on Cousins’ name. Seriously. The 33-year-old quarterback passed for 323 yards and three first-half touchdowns with a near 80% clip. Cousins outplayed his Seahawks counterpart Russell Wilson, diligently conducting six drives of seven or more plays — Seattle had two such possessions all game. If we just pause for a moment to glance back at Minnesota’s first two outings, we can see Sunday wasn’t some sort of anomaly. Cousins has played well … check that, played outstanding in each of the Vikings first three games. On the year, he’s completed 88 of 119 throws (74%), averaged 306 passing yards, and boasts an 8:0 touchdown to interception ratio. If “check-down king” wasn’t bizarrely associated with Cousins, who ranked second in the NFL last season in yards gained per pass attempt (8.3), we’d probably be butting in on early MVP discussions. Instead, Cousins is under-appreciated, which means we’re the ones starting that dialogue. You like that?! You like that!
DON’T FORGET ABOUT ME
Hello, Alexander the Great. Seen in small doses as Cook’s backup, Mattison, the 2019 third-round pick, served up a plate the “Chef” would be proud of with 171 total yards on 32 touches. His long rush on the afternoon went for 24 yards. His biggest catch gained 23. The best part of Mattison’s performance was the nonchalance, he looked the part of a No. 1 back. He was instrumental to five consecutive scoring drives that ate at the clock and kept the ball out of Wilson’s hands. He matched his career-high rushing mark of 112 yards — achieved in last year’s 27-26 loss to Seattle, a game where the Vikes held the lead with under two minutes to go and Mattison was stuffed on 4th-and-1 deep inside Seahawks territory — and set new personal receiving bests with six receptions for 59 yards. Like his Twitter bio says, he’s gifted.
How could we not pick Jefferson’s first “Griddy” this season at U.S. Bank Stadium? The dance made ultra-famous by the sensational sophomore Vikings receiver hit different in the presence of 66,729 fans. When Jefferson broke out the moves, however, was most important. Pre-snap motion lured Seattle linebacker Cody Barton toward the middle of the field and left Jefferson soloed up with cornerback D.J. Reed. Jefferson jiggled out of his stance, cut inside like he was running a slant then swiveled and ran to purple grass … his 3-yard touchdown catch near the front right pylon with :16 seconds to spare in the second quarter gifted Minnesota it’s first lead — a lead that never was put into jeopardy.
Honorable Mention: We’d be remiss not to at least briefly highlight Cousins’ fourth-quarter completion to K.J. Osborn facing 3rd-and-5. Seattle, intent on getting a stop and resurrecting its own offense, dialed up a zero blitz which left Cousins out to dry. He turned his drop back into a semi-backpedal and somehow managed to release the football at the same moment he was smothered by a hightailing linebacker. The pass perfectly arrowed into Osborn’s hands.
64% — Minnesota converted 9 of 14 third-down attempts, an encouraging development after moving the sticks on 8 of 26 (31%) tries combined the first two weeks. The team’s ability to sustain drives, particularly as the game wore on, sapped Seattle’s offense of its rhythm and flow. Minnesota executed scoring drives of 12, 16, 11 and 12 plays after the Seahawks missed a field-goal attempt from 44 yards out with 3:18 remaining in the first half. The Vikings converted seven times on those four series alone. To paint a better picture of the funk that Seattle’s offense experienced as a result of Minnesota’s success, here’s another figure to consider: 6 — the total number of first downs the Hawks collected in the final 30 minutes.
THEY SAID IT
“Feels a little tough right now but, it’s one of those things that I love about the game. You feel every single one of those reps … they all paid off and we were able to come out and get the victory, so that’s all that matters.” — Alexander Mattison on how 32 touches felt
“You see a flash of purple. You have a ballpark idea.” — Cousins on whether he saw Osborn on the 3rd-and-5 dart or just trusted that he would be there
“I don’t know. Kyle Shanahan used to say that my swag was having no swag. He told me as a rookie to never change. He said when I came out for my first preseason game, he said my jersey looked so big it looked like I was wearing a Halloween costume.” — Cousins on what swag means to him
“I was waiting for that moment for a long time now, so to finally score a touchdown in front of the fans and hit the “Griddy,” it was great.” — Justin Jefferson
“Fans love the “Griddy.” — Adam Thielen
“Facts.” — Jefferson
Cleveland. Minnesota plays host for the second of three straight home games. The Browns (2-1) have stacked back-to-back victories after narrowly losing to Kansas City, 33-29, in Week 1. Cleveland thumped Chicago on Sunday, decisively beating the Bears by 20 points, who looked out of their league with quarterback Justin Fields making his first career start against a vaunted pass rush led by Myles Garrett. The Browns are guided by onetime friend turned foe Kevin Stefanski, who served as Minnesota’s offensive coordinator two seasons ago, and in various other roles on the Vikes’ staff from 2006-18. Let’s show Kev how to “Griddy.”