Report card: Vikings 14, Falcons 9

The Vikings’ stout defense dominated the Falcons to post a 14-9 victory on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

The Vikings earned their eighth straight victory and improved to 10-2.

The Falcons, who didn’t score a touchdown for the first time since losing 38-0 to Carolina on Dec. 13, 2015, dropped to 7-5. 

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan had thrown at least one touchdown in 30 straight games, which was the league’s longest active streak.  

The Falcons were 1 of 10 on third downs and had to settle for field goals when they bogged down before a crowd of 71,185 (tickets distributed).

Here are the grades for the game: 

Run offense: Devonta Freeman returned to the starting lineup and ran well. He finished with 74 yards on 12 carries. Tevin Coleman had 22 yards on eight carries. The Falcons opened with a 16-play drive that took 7:24 off the clock, but was halted by three penalties. Jake Matthews had an illegal block and Alex Mack and Ben Garland had holding penalties. Left guard Andy Levitre suffered a triceps injury and did not return to the game. Freeman had a 25-yard run called back on Mack’s holding penalty.  Grade: B 

Pass offense: The Falcons tried their quick passing game early and had some success. Ryan was under constant pressure and off the mark, especially on third downs. Ryan was 17 of 30 for 172 yards. Wide receiver Julio Jones was held to one catch for 13 yards after having 12 catches for 253 yards last week against Tampa Bay.  Grade: D

Run defense: Latavius Murray ran hard for the Vikings and busted up the middle for a 30-yard gain in the second quarter. He had 45 yards on six carries at halftime. Grady Jarrett and Derrick Shelby were stout against the run. Murray rushed 16 times for 76 yards. Jerick McKinnon rushed nine times for 24 yards. Grade: C 

Pass defense: The Falcons had to play with a patchwork secondary with Desmond Trufant (concussion protocol) and Brian Poole (back) out. Blidi Wreh-Wilson started at left cornerback for Trufant. Minnesota quarterback Case Keenum moved the ball around to nine different receivers as the Falcons played mostly zone defense.  Grady Jarrett had a sack to end Minnesota’s second offensive possession. Wren-Wilson was in coverage against Kyle Rudolph on Minnesota’s go-ahead touchdown. Grade: C 

Special teams: Matt Bryant made field goals of 38, 36 and 47 yards. He missed a 45-yarder that could have made it 14-12 with 4:58 to play. Punter Matt Bosher had 4.5 seconds of hang time on his 42-yard punt in that second quarter that forced a fair catch. Bosher had a 54-yard punt that had 5:37 seconds of hang time in the third quarter. Andre Roberts was steady.  Grade: C

Coaching: The Falcons were sloppy as they committed six penalties for 45 yard and killed two promising drives in the first half. The Falcons had to settle for two field goals and didn’t have any answers for third down.  Grade: C  

Next up: The Falcons will host the New Orleans Saints in a key NFC South game at 8:25 p.m. Thursday night at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Atlanta Falcons

Watch for players from Georgia colleges in NFL playoffs
Watch for players from Georgia colleges in NFL playoffs

Georgia's season is over but some former Bulldogs are still playing football. Three have key roles in the NFL playoffs and another might be activated this weekend. There's also an ex-Georgia Tech player and a former Georgia Southern standout on rosters for the league championship games Sunday. Watch the video above to find out who the players are so...
Falcons sign nine players to reserve/future contracts 
Falcons sign nine players to reserve/future contracts 

The Falcons signed signed nine players to reserve/future contracts on Monday.  Quarterback Garrett Grayson, safety Marcelis Branch, cornerback Deante Burton (a former wide receiver), offensive lineman Daniel Brunskill, defensive lineman Taniela Tupou, defensive lineman Joey Ivie, defensive end J’Terious (JT) Jones, wide receiver Reggie...
Falcons slated to pick  26th overall in NFL draft
Falcons slated to pick 26th overall in NFL draft

After the divisional round of the playoffs, the order for the 2018 NFL draft is mostly set through the first 28 positions. The Falcons are slotted at the 26th position, the same place they traded up to last season to select defensive end Takkarist McKinley. The 2018 NFL Draft will be held April 26-28 in Dallas.  Last season, the Falcons were slated...
Report: Freeman may need knee surgery 
Report: Freeman may need knee surgery 

Falcons running back Devonta Freeman, who rushed for seven yards on 10 carries and missed a blitz pick up in the playoff loss to the Eagles, believes that he might need knee surgery, according to an report. Freeman was listed on the team’s injury report with a knee injury. He said, in the report, that he suffered sprained posterior...
Falcons to play six games against playoff teams in 2018
Falcons to play six games against playoff teams in 2018

The Falcons opponents for the 2018 seasons were set back in December when they were locked into the third place in the NFC South. In addition to Carolina and New Orleans (twice), the Falcons will play only two other playoff teams in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The Falcons will face the third-place teams from the NFC West (Arizona) and NFC North (Green...
More Stories