Vikings @ Saints
Final Score: Vikings 28, Saints 25
Writer: Brennan Rampe (@phdinnfl on Twitter)
Blimey! What a way to start the morning! The first international game of the year was an absolute thriller, and it’ll be hard for the others to top this one. After the Vikings scored on their opening drive with a screen to Alexander Mattison, it seemed like this would be a blowout, with Saints’ backup quarterback Andy Dalton struggling early without star players Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. Dalton then got settled in and threw a touchdown to Chris Olave to tie up the game. It was only the second Saints touchdown in quarters 1-3 this season! New Orleans committed two turnovers, with Dalton and Deonte Harty fumbling, but the Saints’ defense held, limiting the Vikings to just field goals. Because of this, they couldn’t put the game away, and guys like Justin Jefferson and Johnny Mundt dropped critical passes, although the pass to Jefferson was behind him as Kirk Cousins was being rushed. Former Viking Latavius Murray scored the second Saints touchdown late in the third quarter. The fourth quarter was thrilling, as the Saints briefly took the lead on a 2-yard rush by Taysom Hill.
The Vikings answered with a 3-yard touchdown run by Jefferson on the ensuing possession. Greg Joseph missed the extra point, extending the drama. Wil Lutz kicked a 60-yard field goal with 1:51 left to tie the game at 25 apiece. Minnesota got into field goal range with a 39-yard pass to Jefferson leading to a 47-yard field goal by Joseph to take the lead. With about 20 seconds left and no timeouts, the Saints didn’t seem like they would be able to get Lutz into position, but a 32-yard pass from Dalton to Olave gave New Orleans a chance to send the game into overtime. Lutz came out on the field to attempt a 61-yarder, but it hit the left upright and then the crossbar before falling to the turf. The double-doink resulted in the third win of the season for the Vikings. As a Vikings fan, they give me heart attacks on a constant basis.
WHAT AN ENDING IN LONDON😱
Wil Lutz's 61-yard FG hits the upright AND the crossbar to nearly force OT
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) October 2, 2022
Kirk Cousins: 25/38, 273 Yards, TD, INT
Cousins did what he needed to in order to get the win. His best drive was the opening one, leading the offense down the field while completing passes to five different receivers. He completed 65.8% of his passes and only had one turnover, which was a bad throw that was intercepted by Tyrann Mathieu. There was constant pressure all game long and he got sacked three times. His lone touchdown pass was to Alexander Mattison, who scored on a screen play after being backed up due to penalties. Several of his receivers dropped catchable passes, most notably Johnny Mundt, who dropped what was probably a touchdown. He was clutch in the fourth quarter, throwing a 39-yard pass to Justin Jefferson which set up the game-winning field goal.
If you had Johnny Mundt Anytime TD, just give up gamblingpic.twitter.com/nmz6kmVmyU
— Dimers.com (@DimersCom) October 2, 2022
Dalvin Cook: 20 Carries, 76 Yards | 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 10 Yards
Alexander Mattison: 3 Carries, 3 Yards | 1 Target, 1 Reception, 15 Yards, TD
The rushing attack was not effective against the Saints’ defensive line, as evidenced by Dalvin Cook’s 3.8 yards-per-carry. He saved his best run for crunch time, scampering for 14 yards on the first play of what ended up being the game-winning drive. He brought in both of his targets, and most importantly, didn’t turn it over. Alexander Mattison, likewise, had no room to run but did score the game’s first touchdown on a nicely executed screen play. They tried to get C.J. Ham involved, but he didn’t have any rushes or receptions. He had one target, but it should have been caught.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) October 2, 2022
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Justin Jefferson: 1 Carry, 3 Yards, TD | 13 Targets, 10 Receptions, 147 Yards
Adam Thielen: 9 Targets, 8 Receptions, 72 Yards
Irv Smith Jr.: 4 Targets, 3 Receptions, 23 Yards
Jalen Nailor: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 13 Yards
K.J. Osborn: 1 Carry, -1 Yard | 2 Targets, 1 Reception, 6 Yards
Justin Jefferson, after being quiet over the past two games, returned to form. He averaged almost 15 yards per catch despite being matched against Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore. It was his second game of the season with over 100 receiving yards, and he added a rushing touchdown. Adam Thielen also had a standout game, catching eight out of nine targets, several for first downs. K.J. Osborn was an afterthought on this one, only catching one pass. Jalen Nailor caught his lone pass on a fake punt from punter Ryan Wright late in the third quarter which led to a field goal. Irv Smith Jr. was the only tight end to record a reception, hauling in three of four targets.
.@JJettas2 gives us the lead!!!
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) October 2, 2022
New Orleans Saints
Andy Dalton: 20/28, 236 Yards, TD | 1 Carry, 3 Yards, 1 Fumble (Lost)
Andy Dalton performed admirably while filling in for Jameis Winston, and played well without stars Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. He completed over 70% of his passes and looked every bit the part of an 11-year veteran. He only turned the ball over once and put the Saints in position to send the game into overtime by hitting Chris Olave with a 32-yard strike with 24 seconds left. He ranks among the most competent backup quarterbacks in the league, and New Orleans’s passing attack doesn’t suffer if he has to continue playing in relief of Winston.
Latavius Murray: 11 Carries, 57 Yards, TD | 1 Target, 1 Reception, 8 Yards
Mark Ingram II: 10 Carries, 30 Yards | 3 Targets, 3 Receptions, 13 Yards
Taysom Hill: 5 Carries, 21 Yards, TD
Latavius Murray was just activated off of the practice squad this week and was the leading rusher for the Saints, averaging over five yards-per-carry and adding a rushing score against his former team. I question why they didn’t keep giving the ball to him, as he was moving the ball well whenever he had it in his hands. Mark Ingram II had almost as many carries as Murray, but was nowhere near as effective, averaging only 3 yards-per-carry. Jack-of-all-trades Taysom Hill (what position is this guy?) had a 2-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter that briefly gave New Orleans the lead.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Chris Olave: 7 Targets, 4 Receptions, 67 Yards, TD
Marquez Callaway: 6 Targets, 3 Receptions, 53 Yards
Adam Trautman: 3 Targets, 3 Receptions, 37 Yards
Juwan Johnson: 4 Targets, 3 Receptions, 33 Yards
Tre’Quan Smith: 2 Targets, 1 Reception, 18 Yards
Jarvis Landry: 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 7 Yards
It fell to Chris Olave to be New Orleans’s WR1 in the absence of Michael Thomas, and he did his best to fill the void. He scored his first NFL touchdown which tied the game in the second quarter. He also caught the 32-yard pass from Dalton with about 20 seconds left that gave Wil Lutz a chance at tying the game. Marquez Callaway flashed on a 33-yard reception but didn’t do much else. Tre’Quan Smith was a non-factor, and Jarvis Landry caught a two-point conversion to tie the game but didn’t do anything else. This could be because he was playing hurt. Tight ends Adam Trautman and Juwan Johnson caught almost everything that was thrown their way, but neither has proven to be reliable fantasy options.