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Hunter, Defense Lead Vikings to Week 1 Win Over Titans

After zero points and two missed field goal attempts by the enigmatic Blair Walsh in the first half, the Minnesota Vikings (1-0) looked far from the 2015 team that won 11 games and an NFC North division title. But something happened at halftime (likely Mike Zimmer losing his voice and making up new ways to use certain four letter words) and the Vikings scored 25 unanswered points in the second half on their way to a Week 1 defeat of the Tennessee Titans (0-1) by a score of 25-16.

Propelled by two defensive touchdowns from Eric Kendricks and Danielle Hunter, Minnesota did not need any scoring help from their offense against the Titans. Which worked out, because Minnesota’s offense did not score a single point on Sunday.

The momentum switched to the Vikings’ side of the ball late in the third quarter after Kendricks picked off an erratic pass by Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota and returned it 77 yards for a touchdown to put Minnesota up 12-10. Kendricks finished the day with a total of six tackles for the Vikings as well on Sunday.

After a 42-yard field goal by Walsh (we will get to him later) early in the fourth quarter, Hunter picked up a Tennessee fumble and returned it 24 yards the other way to put six more points on the board for Minnesota. Two drives later, the Vikings’ second-year defensive end was in the Titans’ backfield again, this time dragging Mariota down for the sack.

After allowing Tennessee to rack up 194 yards in the first half, including 145 yards passing, Minnesota only gave up 122 yards to the Titans offense in the game’s final two quarters. 74 of those yards came on Tennessee’s final offensive drive of the game.

Walsh accounted for 13 (4/6 FGs and 1/2 XPs) of the Vikings 25 points on Sunday, but he began the day missing two field goals in the first half and left Minnesota fans ripping their eyebrow hairs out wondering what was going on in the mind of their kicker. But he pulled it together and did not miss a field goal attempt in the second half (just an extra point), certainly playing a large part in the Vikings’ victory.

Minnesota went with Shaun Hill as their starting quarterback against the Titans and even though he did not blow anyone away with his stats, he did not turn the ball over once. In a game where Tennessee’s offense coughed up the ball three times, Hill holding onto the ball throughout the day proved to be extremely valuable.

Hill’s day was made a little easier by the play of his pass catchers against the Titans. Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, and Kyle Rudolph combined to haul in 15 passes for 222 yards. Diggs tied his career high with seven catches in Tennessee and looks on his way to have a very impressive season.

Running back Adrian Peterson certainly did not have his best day on Sunday. Peterson finished with only 31 yards on 19 carries and saw the Titans basically bring in everything, including the kitchen sink, to prevent him from having a productive afternoon.

Minnesota will more than likely need some better production from their offense (perhaps some points even) when they play their first home game of the 2016 regular season against the Green Bay Packers in Week 2. The Packers picked up their first win of the season as well on Sunday after squeaking by the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-23.

All statistics courtesy of ESPN.com unless otherwise stated.

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Adam Patrick

Adam has been rooting for the Vikings ever since he saw Randall Cunningham win NFC Special Teams Player of the week in 1997. Since his career sports highlights include 3rd place at 5th Grade Golf Camp and catching a ball during a soccer game (he was not playing goalie), Adam turned to writing. He considers himself a 'Vikings Realist' as he does not shy away from criticizing the purple and gold if necessary. He will not always write about the popular topics, but his goal is to provide readers with content they cannot find anywhere else. Follow him on Twitter @Str8_Cash_Homey

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5 Comments

  1. Zach Line – 0 yards on 0 carries. Zero receptions. Zero touchdowns.
    Vikings offense – zero touchdowns vs the Titans.
    This is not a coincidence

    Norv is most likely saving his secret weapon for a season saving game.

  2. I was sure pleasantly surprised with the O-line. NO sacks! Pass protection was great, Run protection, not so good. AD looked RUSTY. Griffin owes Harry a new car; Took an interception away from him.
    Walsh;YUCK. Our defense looked spectacular in the 2nd half.

  3. Shakey start.Began like last yrs opener, Which Blair Witch Project was at it again, we couldn’t stop the run, couldn’t run, and barely pass. Like to think our guys made those ‘halftime adjustments’ that are the hallmark of good coaches. Mid rounder Tahje looked Sterling Sharpe, while our first rounder should have paid to get in. Waynes got picked on but held his own(not the other guys jersey). Zimmer wanted more turnovers and got ’em. Hope Everson Griffin learned his lesson; he owes Hit Man Harry after the the big fellas P-foul negated a late interception, lucky it didn’t matter. And thank you Shaun Hill for the 15 yr pro you are, it showed in your pocket presence and patience. Wonder how close we came to taking the ‘ford out of the garage to start the 2nd half?

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