The Vikings sat Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson throughout the preseason. On Sunday, they unleashed them.
Cousins threw a pair of touchdown passes to Jefferson, and the third-year wide receiver caught nine passes for 184 yards. It added up to a season-opening 23-7 victory over Green Bay at U.S. Bank Stadium in the first Vikings game under head coach Kevin O’Connell.
O’Connell, the offensive coordinator last season for the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams, wasted no time in rolling out his new attack. In the first half, Cousins threw for 208 yards, and Jefferson had five catches for 158 yards and both of his touchdown receptions. Jefferson gave the Vikings a 7-0 lead on a 5-yard grab on fourth down in the first quarter and a 17-0 advantage in the second quarter on a 36-yard reception.
After his second touchdown, the crowd chanted to Jefferson, “MVP. MVP. MVP.”
For the game, Cousins completed 23 of 32 passes for 277 yards.
The Vikings took a 20-0 lead in the third quarter when Greg Joseph tied a team record for longest field goal with a 56-yard boot. Paul Edinger in 2005 and Blair Walsh in 2012 share the record.
The Packers closed within 20-7 on a 2-yard touchdown run by A.J. Dillon late in the third quarter. But the Vikings defense then took over, getting sacks by Danielle Hunter and D.J. Wonnum when the Packers had the ball next.
Minnesota’s new 3-4 scheme under defensive coordinator Ed Donatell produced four sacks. One was from edge rusher Za’Darius Smith, who played the past three years with Green Bay.
The Vikings took a 23-7 lead on Joseph’s third field goal of the game, a 29-yarder with 6:48 left.