Minneapolis - A rugged defense and a quick-strike passing attack led the Minnesota Vikings to a 29-19 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Monday night at U.S. Bank Stadium in the season opener for both teams.
Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford had a strong outing, going 27 of 32 for 346 yards with three TDs.
His top targets were Stefon Diggs (seven catches for 93 yards) and Adam Thielen (nine catches for 157 yards). Rookie running back Dalvin Cook carried the ball 22 times for 127 yards.
The Saints offense was forced to settle for four Wil Lutz field goals (43, 21, 24 and 20 yards) and late 8-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Drew Brees to tight end Coby Fleener. Brees was 27 of 37 for 291 yards and the one TD. He had to play most of the game without starting right tackle Zach Strief, who left in the first half with an apparent knee injury. Veteran Senio Kelemete replaced Strief. It was Kelemete's first time playing the position. The Saints also played without starting receiver Willie Snead, out three games because of an NFL suspension.
New Saints running back Zach Line, who played the first 10 seasons of his career in Minneapolis, had the first carry of the game for the Saints, a 9-yarder, but carried the ball just five more times for a total of 18 yards.
Penalties hurt the Saints as they had six for 52 yards, two of which were for 15 yards and extended the Vikings' opening scoring drive. The Vikings also won on third down, converting on 9 of 14 of their attempts while the Saints were 4 of 11.
Four rookies started for the Saints, left tackle Ryan Ramczyk, cornerback Marshon Lattimore, linebacker Alex Anzalone and safety Marcus Williams. Rookie tailback Alvin Kamara saw extensive action as well.
Attendance was 66,606. It was the Saints' first game at U.S. Bank Stadium. New Orleans opens up the home portion of its schedule Sunday vs. New England (0-1) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Saints stat leaders
Drew Brees, 27 of 37 for 291 yards
Alvin Kamara, seven carries for 18 yards
Mark Ingram, five catches for 54 yards
Coby Fleener, five catches for 54 yards and one TD
Vikings stat leaders
Sam Bradford, 27 of 32 for 346 yards and three TDs
Dalvin Cook, 22 carries for 127 yards
Adam Thielen, nine catches for 157 yards