The Vikings held on to beat the 49ers 24-16 in the season opener, leaving us with a handful of opinions that stood out.
1. Aaron Rodgers rule was a factor
Remember when Anthony Barr hit Aaron Rodgers and Rodgers broke his collarbone last season? Well, the league changed the rules so defensive players can no longer force offensive players into the ground with their full body weight behind them.
That penalty came up and helped turn an incomplete pass on 3rd-and-15 into a first down for the 49ers, with Sheldon Richardson being flagged for "driving" Jimmy Garoppolo into the turf.
There was also a defensive holding call on the same play, but the penalty ultimately kept the 49ers' driver alive and Garoppolo made Minnesota pay with a great throw for a touchdown to Austin Pettis in the back corner of the end zone.
2. Kirk Cousins' arm is a nice change
Plain and simple, Cousins has a lot more heat on his passes than Case Keenum had. He finished 20-of-36 for 244 yards and two touchdowns, including a couple of heads up passes for touchdowns to Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph against defenders who never turned their heads to find the ball.
3. Dalvin Cook involved in the passing game
Basically, Cook was a stud for the first two quarters and then becoming mostly a non-factor in the second half. Despite that, he finished with six catches for 55 yards. He rushed 15 times for 40 yards, which won't cut it for the long haul.
4. Offensive line lived up to the lack of hype
The pass protection was decent with Cousins being sacked three times, but the run blocking was porous at best, generating just 3.6 yards per carry on the day, which resulted in way too many 3rd-and-long situations – especially in the second half.
5. Defense is elite as advertised
Not much to say here other than give the defense a standing ovation for coming up with big plays. On a day when Minnesota's offense generated just 17 points, the pick-six by rookie first-round pick Mike Hughes was a difference-maker.
The defensive line was routinely pressuring Garoppolo and interceptions by Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith in the second half were also critical.
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