To understand how the Minnesota Vikings responded to a lackluster performance in their season opener, one need not look further than the game's opening drive Sunday, Sept. 20, in Indianapolis.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins fed the ball to his top two offensive weapons, Adam Thielen and Dalvin Cook. Cook couldn't much going and Cousins missed a few targets, leaving the Vikings short of the end zone.
Minnesota got a field goal on that drive and then fell silent for the majority of the game, losing to the Indianapolis Colts 28-11 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Much like last week against Green Bay, Minnesota (0-2) was dominated in possession of the ball, with Indianapolis stringing together long drives to chew up the clock.
"I think it's a combination of all the pieces that would keep you off the field — converting third downs, avoiding penalties, staying in managable down and distances and being efficient with the plays that you call," Cousins said. "Anytime you stub your toe in any of those areas, it makes it tough to sustain a drive."
Cousins had one of his worst statistical games as a Viking, completing just 11 of his 26 attempts for 113 and three interceptions.
"Today was not a sharp day," Cousins said.
Cook ground out 63 yards rushing with a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Rookie Justin Jefferson paced Minnesota with 44 yards receiving, with Thielen adding 31 yards.
After responding to Minnesota's opening salvo with a Jonathan Taylor rushing touchdown, Indianapolis (1-1) sacked Cousins in the end zone for a safety — the third consecutive regular season game Minnesota has given up a safety. The miscues by the Vikings added up as the Colts reeled off 28-straight points to pad their lead.
"I've been telling them, 'We can't start winning until we stop losing,'" Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said. "And right now, we are doing things to beat ourselves — with the turnovers and the sacks and safeties and penalties on third downs on defense. I'm just not going to deal with it anymore."
With Chicago and Green Bay both undefeated through two games and a difficult schedule ahead, Minnesota stands to find itself in deep hole in the NFC North if their current problems carry over next week against Tennessee.
"We didn't control the ball offensively, and we didn't make enough plays defensively," Zimmer said. "We're going to have to get a lot better, quickly."