Vikings Territory Breakdown: Vikes Sack the Pack in the Opener

For most NFL fans, each new season-opening weekend can’t arrive soon enough. Well, for Minnesota Vikings fans, this one was worth the wait. The Vikings, with a new GM, new head coach, new coaching staff and a number of new players, hosted their biggest rival—the Green Bay Packers—and sent them packing.

The Vikings started strong with an opening-drive score (on 4th and one from the five), built a 17-0 halftime lead and never looked back on their way to a 23-7 win and a share (with the surprising Chicago Bears) of the NFC North. The defense, led by a fired-up Za’Darius Smith, got in reigning league MVP Aaron Rodgers’ face all day, as he missed receivers and they missed his passes.

“It sucks,” Rodgers, who was sporting a new haircut resembling a 10-year-old’s and using the appropriate vernacular, told reporters.

The Packers were listless at times (and their head coach knew it—as Matt LaFleur told FOX TV at halftime: “[I’m] disappointed with the effort and energy.”), letting Justin Jefferson get loose for 158 yards (a team record) and two scores in the first half alone. (He had nine catches on 11 targets for 184 yards on the day.) To leave one of the best receivers in the league in double coverage was a “bold move, Cotton.” How did that work out for you?

“The game plan was to not allow 18 to beat us,” Packers corner Jaire Alexander said, via Ryan Wood of “Why I wasn’t on him, that’s not my call. Anybody watch me play, you know that’s what I want.”

Regardless, it was a great offensive scheme by Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell to move JJ all around the line pre-snap, never letting the Packers defense know where he was going to be next. Jefferson put up his best game as a pro, and it seemed like he could have gotten even more had the Vikings’ second-half drives not simply resulted in field goals—one of them a Vikings record-tying 56-yarder by Greg Joseph.

There were a lot of purple-helmeted heroes in such a solid and dominating victory—but too many mention them all here. Joe Oberle, senior writer for VikingTerritory and PurplePTSD and Mark Craig, Vikings writer and NFL Insider for the Star Tribune and Startribune will be on the VT Breakdown Podcast, attempting to talk about them all. (One of those guys picked the Vikings to win and the other did not—so you will want to check that recap out.)

It was a big start for the Purple, a win in his first game as an NFL head coach for KOC, a nice game for QB Kirk Cousins in a new offense and a heck of a lot of momentum going into next Monday night on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles. Tune in to the VT Breakdown podcast to see what we think about the Vikings’ prospects in that game.