This was the kind of game that costs people jobs.
WELL, THAT DIDN’T TAKE LONG
After winning the opening coin flip, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer chose to take the ball.
“The Zim” taketh, and “the Cousins” giveth away, as on the first play from scrimmage, Kirk Cousins was intercepted by Deion Jones. In no time, the Falcons took a 7-0 lead on a 20-yard strike from Matt Ryan to Julio Jones, on Jones’ first catch since returning from injury, and his first score of the season.
The Vikings would have just ten yards in total offense on their first three possessions, but found life when rookie cornerback Jeff Gladney, stripped Brian Hill after an eight-yard run and Eric Wilson scooped it up. Cousins would complete three passes for 73 yards on the drive, including 55 yards worth to tight ends Irv Smith, Jr. and Kyle Rudolph.
Then, Vikings offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak pulled out his play index card — because to say he has a playbook, would be wrong.
Two Alexander Mattison runs into the line and a hurried incompletion to Irv Smith, Jr. later, the Vikings were faced with a 4th-and-goal from the two.
Unlike last week, the Vikings should have chosen the field goal, but instead, elected to rush a snap. The handoff to Mike Boone fooled no one, and the Falcons took over on downs, ending any hopes of a Vikings comeback before even the biggest drinker could get their gameday buzz.
After forcing a punt on the ensuing possession, Kirk Cousins would throw his second interception of the game on a terrible throw. The Falcons would drive 40 yards, capping it off with an eight-yard touchdown reception by Calvin Ridley for a 17-0 lead. Minnesota started what looked to be a promising drive just before halftime, but Cousins would throw his third interception of the half, this time to Foyesade Oluokun, and the Falcons were in business. The drive would stall at the two and Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo made the 21-yard chip shot field goal to carry a 20-0 Atlanta lead into the locker room.
IT WOULDN’T GET MUCH BETTER
The Falcons added to their lead on the first drive of the second half on a Koo 47-yard field goal.
From there, Minnesota would finally get on the scoreboard with their first second-half possession. The nine-play, 75-yard drive was capped by a Justin Jefferson 11-yard touchdown reception and the lead was cut to 23-7. Jefferson had 73 yards on four catches for the drive.
Any Vikings momentum was short-lived, as Matt Ryan found Julio Jones for a 40-yard touchdown to extend the lead back to 23 points at 30-7.
A fourth-quarter Koo field goal from 43 yards out — his fourth of the game — pushed the lead to 33-7. The Vikings would put together an eight-play, 75-yard drive that ended in a Cousins-to-Adam Thielen two-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion cut the lead to 33-15. An absolutely horrible onside kick attempt (hey, where was the watermelon kick?) set up the Falcons at the Vikings 44-yard line with 3:57 left in the game. Four plays later, Matt Ryan would find Hayden Hurst from 35 yards out, and after the extra point, the lead was 40-15.
Minnesota would cap off the scoring with a three-play, 80-yard drive that took just 45 seconds of play clock to complete. Justin Jefferson took a Kirk Cousins pass 49 yards and caught the two-point conversion to account for the game’s final points.
BY THE NUMBERS
Cousins would end the game 24-of-26 passing for 343 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. This game marked the first time in Cousins’ NFL career throwing three first-half interceptions, contributing to 17 Falcons points on the day. The Minnesota rushing game never got going, as Alexander Mattison picked up just 26 yards on ten carries. Justin Jefferson appears to be emerging as a bright, young star; he had nine catches for 166 yards on the day, including a pair of touchdowns. Irv Smith, Jr. is also getting more involved in the passing game, as he would have 55 yards on four catches. Thielen was held in check for much of this game, with 51 yards on just three catches, including a touchdown.
Matt Ryan had a field day in this game. He was 30-of-40 passing for 371 yards and four touchdowns. Todd Gurley never got going, as he picked up just 47 rushing yards on 20 carries. Julio Jones marked a very successful return to the field with 137 yards on eight catches, including his first two touchdowns of the season.
It could very well be time for the Vikings to consider moving on from this coaching staff and maybe even GM Rick Spielman; too much money spent on the wrong areas, while others appear to have been neglected.
As for the coaching, the philosophy is antiquated. It’s boring, lifeless, and overall, ineffective.
This team’s problems start at the top, and like a good trip to the barber, a little off the top can be a good thing.
(Featured Image Credit: Vikings.com)