The Minnesota Vikings travel to NRG Stadium in Houston to play the Texans. The Vikings fell to 0-3 last week 31-30 after building a 12-point lead. The Texans suffered a 28-20 loss to the Steelers at Heinz Field and also fell to 0-3.
Deshaun Watson had a solid, if not spectacular game, completing 19-of-27 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns. His lone mistake was an interception of a pass intended for Kenny Stills that would lead to the Steelers’ eventual game-winning touchdown. Houston had almost no running game, with David Johnson’s 23 yards on 13 carries leading the way. Randall Cobb had four catches for 95 yards and a touchdown to pace the receivers. The offensive line allowed five sacks by the Steelers.
Houston’s defense allowed 387 yards of offense to the Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 237 yards and two scores while James Conner picked up 109 rushing yards on just 18 carries. Eight different Steelers caught passes, with tight end Eric Ebron pacing the corps with 52 yards.
It’s amazing how different an offense can look when you use your weapons. Dalvin Cook had his best rushing day as a pro with 181 yards on 22 carries for a robust 8.1 yards per tote. The running game set up the pass well with Kirk Cousins throwing for 251 yards and three scores. Cousins did have a bad throw that led to an interception, then one more on a desperation heave at the end of the game, but a much better performance than his effort against the Colts. Had it not been for Cook’s big day on the ground, Justin Jefferson may have been spotlighted. The rookie wide receiver from LSU had seven catches for 175 yards that included a 71-yard touchdown.
The Vikings defense played one good half of football against the Titans, but let up in the second half. They allowed 30+ points for the second time in three games and are allowing 34.0 points per game on the season. Tennessee amassed 444 yards in net offense, 310 via the pass. Kalif Raymond would be the third receiver to go over 100 yards receiving against the decimated Vikings secondary this season. Derrick Henry surpassed 100 rushing yards for the first time this year with 119 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries.
The real key to the Titans victory was Stephen Gostkowski. The kicker, whose job seemed to be in jeopardy after five field goal misses and a missed extra point in the first two weeks of 2020, nailed all six of his attempts against the Vikings, including three from beyond 50 yards. Of course Marge, the crossing guard, could face Minnesota and make five field goals including two from 50+ because, Vikings.
The Vikings played with a bit more intensity against the Titans, but it still wasn’t enough.
The defense held off Tennessee as long as it could, but lack of depth eventually did them in. Still, forcing six field goal attempts showed a lot of grit, and just one of those missing would have put the Vikings in the win column. Houston is also 0-3, having a brutal schedule of the Chiefs, Ravens, and Steelers to start the year. The team’s offense has been one-dimensional thus far, with the running attack nowhere to be found. Watson may be missing DeAndre Hopkins, as he has only two touchdown passes through three games and his team averaging just 19.0 points per game.
If the Vikings can keep Houston one-dimensional, this could be the week they get their first win. Cook left late in the Titans game with a leg injury that should be monitored as the week moves forward, but if he’s healthy, I see the Vikings taking it in a squeaker. No Cook, however, and loss #4 appears to be a near certainty.
(Featured Image Credit: Vikings.com)