The Minnesota Vikings beat the Green Bay Packers 23-7 in a game that never felt close.
The Vikings came out strong out of the block getting a touchdown on the opening drive to Justin Jefferson. Right after that, they dodged a bullet when Packers wide receiver Christian Watson dropped a surefire 75-yard touchdown pass. After that, the game never felt within the Packers reach.
There were quite a few players who played key roles in the Vikings victory over the Packers on Sunday.
Let’s take a look at the studs and duds from Sunday’s game.
Stud: Justin Jefferson
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) scores a touchdown on a 36-yard reception while being covered by Green Bay Packers cornerback Eric Stokes (21) during the second quarter of their game Sunday, September 11, 2022 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn.MARK HOFFMAN/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL
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There isn’t a better receiver in the NFL than Jefferson. He dominated the Packers on Sunday by getting wide open, catching contested passes and getting yards after the catch. He was the catalyst behind the Vikings victory on Sunday and head coach Kevin O’Connell did a great job scheming him open in creative ways. The sky is the limit for Jeffersons quest for a 2,000 yard season.
Stud: Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter
Minnesota Vikings linebacker Za’Darius Smith (55) celebrates with linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) after Hunter sacked Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the fourth quarter during their football game Sunday, September 11, 2022, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Min. Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
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It started from player introductions as the pass-rushing duo decided to be introduced together and they brought the same energy and performance on the field. Both Smith and Hunter had a sack each and were a dominant force on both the outside and the interior. As you can tell from the above picture, Smith was having a blast and that showed when Aaron Rodgers tried to block his former teammate.
Stud: Greg Joseph
Sep 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings place kicker Greg Joseph (1) kicks an extra point against the Green Bay Packers in the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
The Vikings have had a lot of issues at the kicker position over the last two decades, but Greg Joseph has been a steady hand at the position since winning the job last season. In Sunday’s game, Joseph was perfect on both field goals (three) and extra points (2) along with tying the team record for the longest field goal with a 56-yarder.
Dud: Ed Ingram
Sep 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) prepares to throw a pass as guard Ed Ingram (67) blocks against the Green Bay Packers during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
It wasn’t a flawless performance for the rookie from LSU. He struggled over the course of the day, including allowing the only sack on quarterback Kirk Cousins. Kenny Clark ate his lunch with elite-level hand usage and Ingram looked lost on the rep. Not all is lost, as Ingram did have some good reps and the future is still bright for him.
Stud: Kirk Cousins
Sep 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws a touchdown pass while being rushed by Green Bay Packers defensive end Dean Lowry (94) as guard Ed Ingram (67) blocks during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
We saw a different version of Kirk Cousins on Sunday. He looked more confident in both looking down the field and making decisions down the field. The first week of the updated scheme seemed to have a major impact on both Cousins’ performance and level of confidence. After the game, he presented game balls to both O’Connell and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah showing a side of leadership that we haven’t seen from him much during his tenure.
Dud: K.J. Osborn
Sep 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) reacts with wide receiver K.J. Osborn (left) after scoring a touchdown on a pass from quarterback Kirk Cousins (not pictured) against the Green Bay Packers during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Where was K.J. Osborn on Sunday afternoon? After an offseason that saw him get a lot of hype, he was virtually non-existent against the Packers. He caught three short passes for only 14 yards. While it’s hard for other players to have a great game when Jefferson goes off for the umpteenth time, the Viking would have liked to have seen a little bit more from the third-year rising star.
Stud: Jordan Hicks
Sep 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Jordan Hicks (58) sacks Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) in the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
What a debut for the eighth-year linebacker in a Vikings uniform. Jordan Hicks was all over the field. He led the team with 14 tackles and had the sack that caused Rodgers to fumble and led to Dalvin Tomlinson’s recovery. His read and recognition skills on that play were decisive and he exploded from his drop zone towards Rodgers. Moving on from Anthony Barr wasn’t easy but performances like this will make it easier.
Story originally appeared on Vikings Wire