The Vikings were caught in a slug fest with the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, but they threw the final punch as Case Keenum's touchdown pass at the beginning of the fourth quarter gave the Vikings a 14-9 lead that they would not relinquish.
1st Down: In a defense first game, the first thing mentioned must be the Vikings defense. The Vikings allowed 102 yards rushing, but only 173 yards passing. Two big stats demonstrate the Vikings dominance defensively. First, they only allowed the Falcons to convert one third down, going 1-10 on the day thus killing many drives. Second, they held Julio Jones to only two receptions for only 24 yards, this comes after a week that Jones torched the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 253 yards on 12 receptions and two touchdowns.
2nd Down: What makes this even more of a fantastic defensive performance, is that the Vikings didn't sack Falcons' quarterback Matt Ryan once, and they only had one tackle for a loss. This is a team that was averaging 24 points per game this season, and had scored 34 in back-to-back weeks and 25-plus in three straight weeks. The fact that they could limit this team to only nine points, without having a huge pass-rushing performance is incredibly impressive.
3rd Down: For the Vikings offensively, Case Keenum, the reigning NFC Player of the Month, led the way, going 25/30 for 227 yards and two touchdowns. Keenum's two touchdowns went to Jerick McKinnon in the second quarter to take a 7-3 lead, then the second was to Kyle Rudolph, a six yard pass with 14:56 left in the fourth quarter to give them a 14-9 lead. Keenum connected with nine receivers on the day, as Adam Thielen led the way with four receptions for 51 yards.
4th Down: A big reason why the Vikings were able to get into the end zone and the Falcons weren't? The Vikings did what the Falcons couldn't. Convert third downs. The Vikings would go 6-12 on third downs, converting 22 first downs on the day, leading to the two scores necessary to win.
The win was the Vikings eighth straight, and continue to get closer to clinching that NFC North title, as they sit at 10-2 and play the Panthers on Sunday, at noon.