Sunday's NFL: Cousins, Thielen lead Vikings in dominant win over Giants
East Rutherford, N.J. — So much for the Minnesota Vikings being one dimensional. The passing game is back in synch with the run.
Add in the defense, and the reality is the Vikings have it all.
Kirk Cousins (Michigan State) threw two touchdowns to Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook ran for 132 yards and the Vikings made life miserable for Daniel Jones and the New York Giants in every way possible in a 28-10 victory Sunday.
“We played well from the jump,” said Cousins, who was 22-of-27 for a season-high 306 yards. “I thought it was a very balanced attack today through the pass game and the run game. The screen game added variety to the offense. I thought Dalvin showed why he’s such a special player.”
The win came just a week after the Vikings (3-2) did little in a 16-6 loss to the Chicago Bears and Thielen insisted the team had to stop being one dimensional, relying solely on the run.
And that’s exactly what Minnesota did. It hit the Giants (2-3) with a bit of everything – pass, run and the defense – in ending the two-game winning streak Jones engineered since replacing Eli Manning at quarterback. The Vikings gained 490 yards on offense, including 211 rushing, and took a knee inside the New York 5 to end the game.
The Vikings defense limited New York to 211 yards, sacked Jones four times and hit him countless other times. The Defense also chipped in with a safety when linebacker Anthony Barr tackled Jon Hilliman in the end zone after New York recovered Cook’s fumble at the 1.
Cousins touchdown passes covered 15 and 9 yards to Thielen, who complained about the one-sidedness of the offense after a two-catch, 6-yard game against Chicago. He finished with seven catches for 130 yards.
The 15-yard, second-quarter touchdown pass capped a 98-yard drive and gave Minnesota a 10-0 lead. The shorter toss ended a 67-yard drive after New York got to 18-10 in the third quarter.
“I feel great. It was huge for the team, huge for the locker room,” said Cook after failing to score a touchdown for the first time this season. “It’s been a long week, there’s been a lot trying to separate us and I think that just brought us more close as a group. I’m just proud of the guys with the way they fought back, blocked that outer noise and came in here and played in a hostile environment.”
Dan Bailey hit field goals of 31, 48, 32 and 45 yards for Minnesota, which scored on four of its six possessions in the first half. The fifth ended in a fumble inside the 5-yard line and the sixth on a last play Hail Mary.
Jones finished 21 of 38 for 182 yards and an interception. He threw a 35-yard yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to fellow rookie Darius Slayton , getting New York to 10-7.
The No. 6 pick overall gave the Vikings’ defense credit, admitting there wasn’t as much space to run or time to throw on some plays. He also said he needs to make plays and there were chances he missed, including two throws to Sterling Shepard that might have been scores.
“It’s never a good feeling when you lose,” Jones said. “I have been on teams where we have lost and I have certainly lost games before. You learn from it and it’s an opportunity to improve. It’s never a good feeling to lose.”
Bailey added two field goals after Jones’ TD pass and Barr got his safety, pushing the lead to 18-7.
Aldrick Rosas pulled the Giants to 18-10 with 32-yard field goal that capped a 15-play drive that opened the second half, but Cousins and Thielen connected again as the Vikings ended a five-game skid in outdoor stadiums.
Baltimore 26, (at) Pittsburgh 23: After Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph was knocked unconscious by a head-high hit in the third quarter, Justin Tucker made a 46-yard field goal in overtime to lift the Ravens past the Steelers.
Baltimore (3-2) snapped a two-game skid when safety Marlon Humphrey stripped Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and recovered the fumble at the Pittsburgh 34. Tucker knocked through the winner four plays later. He also forced overtime with a field goal 14 seconds from the end of regulation.
Lamar Jackson threw for 161 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions and also ran for a game-high 70 yards. Mark Ingram ran for a touchdown for the Ravens, who won in Pittsburgh (1-4) for the second straight season.
Rudolph threw for 131 yards and a score before suffering a concussion following a hit to the chin by Baltimore safety Earl Thomas. Backup Devlin Hodges played admirably in Rudolph’s place, throwing for 68 yards and directing a pair of scoring drives after Rudolph’s exit. James Conner ran for 55 yards and a touchdown for Pittsburgh.
Denver 20, (at) L.A. Chargers 13: Phillip Lindsay ran for 114 yards and Denver’s defense forced three turnovers as the Broncos got their first win under Vic Fangio.
Joe Flacco completed 14-of-20 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown as Denver (1-4) raced to a 17-0 lead in the second quarter and held on for the 500th victory in franchise history.
Los Angeles (2-3) struggled most of the day and had two turnovers inside the Denver 5. The Chargers got within 17-10 midway through the fourth quarter, but Denver’s Brandon McManus put it out of reach with a 46-yard field goal with 1:55 remaining.
Chase McLaughlin’s 32-yard field goal brought LA back within a touchdown with 15 seconds remaining, but Denver (1-4) recovered the onside kick to put it away.
Philip Rivers was 32-of-48 for 211 yards with two interceptions. Melvin Gordon was held to 31 yards rushing in his first game back after a holdout. Fellow running back Austin Ekeler had 15 receptions for 86 yards.
(At) New Orleans 31, Tampa Bay 24: Teddy Bridgewater passed for 314 yards and four touchdowns to remain unbeaten in three starts for the Saints this season.
With Bridgewater getting increasingly accustomed to playing for the injured Drew Brees, he had his best game yet for New Orleans (4-1) against a Tampa Bay defense that entered the game ranked second to last in the NFL against the pass.
With inspiring chants of “Ted-dy! Ted-dy!” from the Superdome crowd, Bridgewater completed 26 of 34 passes, with his two touchdown throws to Michael Thomas and one each to Jared Cook and Ted Ginn Jr.
Tampa Bay’s secondary struggled to stay with Thomas, who finished with 11 catches for 182 yards.
Bridgewater, who began playing in Week 2 after Brees’ first-quarter thumb injury in a loss to the Rams, had not completed a pass as long as 30 yards in his first 11 quarters of play this season.
That changed in the first quarter against the Bucs (2-3) with a 34-yard completion to Thomas. Bridgewater later hit Thomas for a 42-yarder early in the second half, setting up his 33-yard scoring strike to Ginn.
Bucs QB Jameis Winston saw his production drop dramatically from his triumphant 385-yard, four-TD performance against the Rams in Week 4. He was 15 of 27 for 204 yards and two touchdowns to Chris Godwin. But Winston could not connect with receiver Mike Evans, who was Winston’s intended target just three times and did not have a catch.
(At) New England 33, Washington 7: Tom Brady picked apart lowly Washington, helped the Patriots stay unbeaten and climbed past a former NFL star in the record book.
Brady threw for 348 yards and three touchdowns, and the Patriots got another strong performance from their defense.
Now in his 20th season, Brady whisked by Brett Favre into third place on the career list with 71,923 yards passing. The 42-year-old Brady now trails only Peyton Manning (71,940 yards) and Drew Brees (74,845).
Brady also edged closer to Manning’s record 539 touchdown passes, connecting with Julian Edelman, Brandon Bolden and Ryan Izzo to bring his total to 527. Shrugging off four sacks, Brady completed 28 of 42 passes — including a 15-yarder to Edelman in the third quarter to eclipse Favre.
This is the fifth time in franchise history that New England has started the season 5-0, and only the second time since 2007.
Playing for the first time since breaking his leg against Philadelphia last December, Washington quarterback Colt McCoy went 18-for-27 for 119 yards and an interception. McCoy began the season behind Case Keenum and rookie Dwayne Haskins Jr., but got the start over the injured Keenum and inexperienced Haskins for Washington (0-5).
McCoy was sacked six times, marking the first time in franchise history New England has four straight games with at least five sacks. In addition, the Patriots completed a fifth consecutive game without allowing a touchdown pass, the first team to pull off that feat since the 1988 Cleveland Browns.
The defeat kept the pressure on Washington coach Jay Gruden, whose job status appears to be tenuous in the wake of his team’s 0-5 start. Gruden is 35-49-1 over five-plus seasons with Washington.
(At) Carolina 34, Jacksonville 27: Christian McCaffrey tied a career high with 237 yards from scrimmage and scored three touchdowns, Brian Burns returned a fumble 56 yards for a touchdown and had a strip-sack in the fourth quarter.
McCaffrey set a franchise record with an 84-yard TD run and scored on a 5-yard run when he somersaulted into the end zone. He also caught an 18-yard TD pass from Kyle Allen before leaving with five minutes remaining after cramping.
But McCaffrey’s seldom-used replacement Reggie Bonnafon had a 59-yard touchdown run to put Carolina (3-2) up by seven with 3:34 left.
Carolina’s defense thwarted Jacksonville’s final two scoring drives when Burns sacked rookie Gardner Minshew to force a turnover and Luke Kuechly batted down a pass on the game’s final play.
Minshew finished 26-of-45 for 374 yards with two touchdowns and one interception for the Jaguars (2-3). Leonard Fournette had 23 carries for 108 yards and a score.
(At) Buffalo 14, (at) Tennessee 7: Josh Allen threw for 219 yards and two touchdowns as Buffalo won a defensive showdown for its third straight win in this series.
The Bills (4-1) now have won three consecutive games away from Buffalo for the first time since 2004, though so many Buffalo fans traveled here it felt much more like a home game. It’s also the first time they’ve started a season perfect through three road games since 1993.
This game featured two of the NFL’s stingiest defenses, with the Titans fourth giving up 15.5 points, and the Bills fifth, allowing 15.8 points a game. Jordan Phillips had a career-high three sacks — by halftime – as Buffalo sacked Marcus Mariota five times even with three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan (Michigan) back from his four-game suspension for performance enhancers.
The Titans (2-3) sacked Allen four times only to lose their third in four games on a day replacement kicker Cairo Santos missed three field goals and had a fourth blocked.
Arizona 26, (at) Cincinnati 23: Rookie Kyler Murray ran for a touchdown and led the Cardinals on a drive to Zane Gonzalez’s 31-yard field goal on the final play as the Cardinals got their first win under coach Kliff Kingsbury.
In a matchup of winless teams, the Cardinals (1-3-1) were a little bit better, with their Heisman Trophy winner making the difference. Murray ran 6 yards for Arizona’s first touchdown and saved the Cardinals after a late defensive collapse. Andy Dalton threw a pair of touchdown passes that tied it 23-23 with 2:00 to go.
That’s when Murray took the game into his hands.
He completed a 24-yard pass to David Johnson and scrambled 24 yards to get in range for Gonzalez’s fourth field goal. Murray ran for a career-high 93 yards and completed 20 of 32 passes for 253 yards without an interception.
Bengals coach Zac Taylor will have to wait at least one more week for that first win, his Bengals at 0-5 for the first time since 2008.
(At) Houston 53, Atlanta 32: Deshaun Watson threw for a career-high 426 yards and tied his personal best with five touchdown passes, including three to Will Fuller.
A week after scoring a season-low 10 points in a loss to Carolina, Watson and Houston’s offense bounced back on a day he was 28-of-33 and became the first player to top 400 yards passing against the Falcons since Week 16 of 2012.
Fuller had a career-best 217 yards receiving, Darren Fells had two touchdown grabs for the Texans (3-2) and Carlos Hyde added a rushing TD.
Houston’s beleaguered offensive line didn’t allow a sack on Sunday after giving up 18 through the first four games.
Matt Ryan had 330 yards passing with three touchdowns and one interception for the Falcons (1-4), who lost their third straight game.
It was Watson’s first meeting with the Falcons after the Georgia native worked as a ball boy for the team all four years of high school. Watson shared a moment with Falcons owner Arthur Blank on the field before the game. Blank started the program at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County that allowed Watson the opportunity to work for the Falcons as a teenager.
(At) Philadelphia 31, N.Y. Jets 6: Nate Gerry returned an interception for a score and Orlando Scandrick took a strip-sack the distance.
The Eagles (3-2) smothered third-string quarterback Luke Falk and overwhelmed New York’s offense on a day Carson Wentz was ordinary. Wentz threw for 189 yards and one touchdown. Jordan Howard ran for 62 yards and one TD.
Sam Darnold missed his third straight game for the Jets (0-4) while he recovers from mononucleosis, so Falk made his second start after opening the season on New York’s practice squad. Falk threw two interceptions and was sacked nine times before leaving late in the game and being replaced by David Fales, who was re-signed by the Jets on Friday. Falk replaced Trevor Siemian — Darnold’s original backup — after he sustained a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2.
Gerry gave the Eagles a 14-0 lead in the first quarter when he jumped in front of Falk’s fourth-down pass and returned it 51 yards.
Scandrick, playing his first game with the Eagles, had two sacks on corner blitzes. He stole the ball from Falk on the second one and ran it back 44 yards to make it 31-6 in the fourth quarter.
Brandon Graham had a career-high three of Philadelphia’s 10 sacks after he only had four last season.
Indianapolis 19, (at) Kansas City 13: The Indianapolis Colts accomplished Sunday night what they failed to do in January. They won in Kansas City.
Marlon Mack ran for 132 yards, ageless kicker Adam Vinatieri knocked through four field goals and the Colts atoned ever-so-slightly for that playoff defeat by shutting down Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ vaunted offense in a 19-13 victory at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Colts (3-2) allowed points on the Chiefs’ first two possessions before shutting them out until Harrison Butker’s field goal with 1:16 to go. Indianapolis recovered the onside kick to seal the win.
Mahomes threw for 321 yards and a touchdown, and the Chiefs (4-1) had just 36 yards rushing despite getting top running back Damien Williams back from an injury, all while watching their record streak of 22 straight games scoring at least 26 points come to a crashing conclusion.