Vikings stuff exotic smashmouth offense in victory

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Fresh off a blockbuster trade that netted them former No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford, the Vikings found themselves here at Nissan Stadium for the season opener without the need for a quarterback. Minnesota pounded the Titans, 25-16, in the season opener thanks to a fierce scoring defense.

Here's what we learned:

  1. The Vikings' trade for Sam Bradford seems completely justified at this point. Minnesota's defense parsed some difficult waters early on Sunday to get the win. Tennessee's offense is not an easy one to figure out, especially when the team did not unleash the full picture of their scheme during the preseason. After playing footsie for a half, Mike Zimmer unleashed his defense in the third and fourth quarters, ignoring all the Titans' window dressings and allowing his beastly defensive line to go straight for the passer. After the game, Zimmer wouldn't announce a starting quarterback for next week's game against the Packers. He added that the team will evaluate Bradford and Shaun Hill on a day-by-day basis this week.
  1. Obviously, Adrian Peterson is not a miracle worker. The Vikings tried just about everything to get the future Hall of Fame running back loose against a Titans team clearly stacking the box. That ended with 19 carries for 31 yards and a long of nine. That wasn't Peterson's fault, though he did trade a near constant string of jukes and stutter steps in the first half for a more accepting, hard-nosed style in the third after realizing that the extra effort was futile. This shouldn't be a concern for Vikings fans, who saw the offense open up in the second half.
  1. The Titans' offense, regardless of their epic second-half freefall, is crazy fun to watch when they are in control of the game. The constant shifting and movement is almost artful and it seems like Marcus Mariota has a Peyton Manning-esque control of his offense. He can shift cross-trained tight ends, fullbacks and running backs and turn them into wide receivers and movable blocking chess pieces at will. Coach Mike Mularkey did a great job of unleashing both DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry in the first half before an interception and string of fumbles in the fourth quarter put Tennessee out of business. Don't dismiss this offense because of a poor decision by Mariota and two by DeMarco Murray, though.
  1. Blair Walsh missed a 27-yard chip shot to end his season last year in the bitter cold against Seattle to end Minnesota's playoff run and quickly promised not to let the kick define his career. To that point, Walsh had been one of the league's more dependable kickers with an 87.6 percent accuracy rate in 2015. On Sunday, we are not sure what to make of his declaration. Walsh hooked a 37-yard field goal wide left to start the game and, when unfairly asked to kick a 56-yarder before the half (his career high), Walsh missed the first attempt so short that it would have yielded a return. However, the Titans' staff attempted to ice him and the kick didn't count. He hooked the second try even further to the left. In the second half, he hit from 50, 45 and 33 but also missed an extra point. In a quarterback-less offense that needed all the points they could get from defense and field goals, Walsh's accuracy could be a concern moving forward.
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