There was no miracle for Minneapolis on Sunday.
The Saints weren’t going to get burned at U.S. Bank Stadium — again.
Behind quarterback Drew Brees (and two Vikings’ turnovers), New Orleans finally got a win on the road in Minnesota. The Saints used two 10-point quarters to build a lead they would never relinquish and defeated the Vikings, 30-20.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins threw a costly pick-6, and though wide receiver Adam Thielen tied Calvin Johnson’s NFL record with his eighth straight game with 100-plus receiving yards, he also made an uncharacteristic mistake.
The Vikings know how to expose the Saints’ faults, but there were few to take advantage of Sunday — that and more from the Saints’ win over the Vikings.
No, the Saints weren’t perfect but they were good enough
Put the Saints in U.S. Bank Stadium and it’s like adding salt to a wound.
New Orleans is all too familiar with what Minnesota can do in front of a home crowd. The Vikings took advantage of the visiting Saints twice last season — once in the 2017 opener and again in the NFC divisional playoff game. But, this time around the Saints weren’t going to budge.
Yes, Brees threw an interception and the defense allowed two fourth-down conversions in the red zone for scores, but New Orleans was good enough to get the job done — finally.
Brees finished 18-of-23 passing for only 120 yards, one touchdown and the lone interception. The last time Brees threw for less than 120 yards or less was Dec. 31, 2006.
So, no it wasn’t pretty or record breaking or a highlight of the accomplished quarterback’s career, but it was enough.
Two big mistakes cost Vikings the game
This time around it was the Saints taking advantage of their opponent’s misfortune.
First, an uncharacteristic turnover from Thielen came right after Minnesota had nabbed an interception itself. Brees threw his first pick of the season, and the Vikings were hoping to capitalize on it when Cousins looked to Thielen in the red zone. But the Vikings star wide out fumbled and two plays later New Orleans scored to take its first lead since the opening drive.
Second, a game-changing miscommunication stopped Stefon Diggs in his tracks, which led to Cousins to throwing a pick-6. The play gets more confusing the more you watch.
📺: NBC pic.twitter.com/43jinmTCbK
— NFL (@NFL) October 29, 2018
Why did Diggs stop mid-route? Was he tried to cutback? Did the pressure throw Cousins off? Whatever the answer may be, it cost Minnesota the game.
Mark Ingram II returns just in time
New Orleans’ run game wasn’t lacking, but now with the return of Mark Ingram II the Saints are better prepared to take on two of the league’s top rushing defenses.
Ingram opened the season serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy. In his place, second-year running back Alvin Kamara carried most of the weight. Now, with Ingram’s return paired with Kamara’s abilities in the backfield, the pair can face the Rams (No. 12 rushing defense) and the Eagles (No. 7) in the coming weeks.
Ingram, a two-time Pro Bowl player, finished with 63 yards on 13 carries. Kamara, selected by the Saints in the third round of the 2017 draft, also carried the rock 13 times for 45 yards and a touchdown — one that put the Saints back .
📺: NBC pic.twitter.com/1GTX9NrygZ
— NFL (@NFL) October 29, 2018
The pair also got work in the passing game, totaling 60 yards on 10 receptions, including a touchdown catch by Kamara.