- The Vikings’ personnel quality is slightly better than the Saints, and they used the advantage well, both offensively and defensively. Offensively, Mike Zimmer did an excellent job of diversifying their attack, using the entire field, and their offensive line play improved from last season. Defensively, the Vikings let their front four dictate the game. Zimmer took advantage of the Saints’ rookie left tackle and an injury to their right tackle, putting QB Drew Brees under pressure all night.
- From a game management standpoint, neither head coach made any real errors. Near the end of the first half, Sean Payton used a couple of time outs while on defense, betting his young defense might be able to make a stop and get the ball back. They didn’t, and the Vikings drove 95 yards to stretch a 10-6 lead to 17-6 at the half. The way the Vikings were beginning to move the ball, that decision may not have mattered much.
- As for the Vikings, their staff performed excellently in this game. The only slightly questionable call came in the third quarter. Ahead 19-6, the Vikings just executed a big play to WR Adam Thielen into Saints territory. On a 1st & 10, the Mike Zimmer called his first gadget play of the game – a reverse to WR Stefon Diggs that the Saints sniffed out for a big loss. On the next play, the Saints sacked Vikings QB Sam Bradford, forcing a punt. This was the first defensive stop the Saints made in several possessions. The Saints took the next drive all the way into the redzone but had to settle for a FG to make it a 19-9 game. However, had the Saints scored a touchdown, it would have been a one possesion game due to perhaps the only bad offensive play call by the Zimmer all night.
- Mike Zimmer’s staff deserves much credit for an excellent all-around game. The Saints, on the other hand, still struggle with getting off the field on 3rd down.