It didn't look good when the Seahawks grabbed a 17-7 lead early in the second quarter, but the Vikings responded by outscoring Seattle 23-0 over the final 41 minutes en route to a 30-17 victory Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The key play was arguably a defensive holding penalty that stripped the Seahawks of a third down sack that would've force the Vikings to punt from their own goal line and given Russell Wilson the ball back with a 10-point lead in the second quarter. But the penalty gave the Vikings a fresh set of downs and six plays later – on a third-and-13 play – Kirk Cousins fired a bullet to Adam Thielen for a 15-yard touchdown.
It was one of three touchdown strikes from Cousins, who hit Tyler Conklin in the first quarter and later found Justin Jefferson from three yards out to put the Vikings up 21-17 with 20 seconds left in the first half.
Cousins finished 30 of 38 for 325 yards and the three touchdowns. Jefferson had nine grabs for 118 yards. Conklin had seven catches while Thielen and Alexander Mattison each had six catches, the majority of Mattion's catches coming on a very effective screen game.
"Kirk has really been working on being a better general and I think he's done a great job with that," head coach Mike Zimmer said on the radio postgame show. "I'm proud of him. He's really played well."
Mattison filled in for an injured Dalvin Cook (ankle) and didn't miss a beat. The former third-round pick from Boise State racked up 171 total yards, including 112 on the ground.
"I told them that it was as fine of an offensive performance as I've seen in eight years here," Zimmer added.
It was also the first time in a long time where Zimmer and offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak chose to stay aggressive. Late in the fourth quarter while up by 10 points, instead of running the clock down as much as possible they allowed Cousins to drop back and throw the ball, ultimately connecting with K.J. Osborne on a key third down to move the chains and kill even more clock.
Playing a conservative style burned the Vikings in a Week 2 loss at Arizona, where Zimmer elected to settle for a 37-yard field goal try rather than push the ball deeper into Arizona territory when he had 40 seconds and a timeout remaining. Joseph missed the kick and the Vikings lost the game.
Zimmer also raved about the way the defense responded after getting torched in the first half, giving a lot of credit to the 65,000 fans who were allowed to watch a home game in person for the first time since 2019.
"They were extremely loud, kind of a year pent up, I think," said Zimmer.
Minnesota has a chance to get back to .500 when they host the Cleveland Browns next Sunday. The Browns (2-1) sacked rookie quarterback Justin Fields nine times in a 26-6 win over the Bears on Sunday.