Minnesota Vikings dispatch 49ers in Cousins' team debut
Kirk Cousins completed 20 of 36 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns in his team debut, and the Minnesota Vikings held on for a 24-16 win over the visiting San Francisco 49ers on Sunday afternoon at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph each hauled in touchdown passes from Cousins, who signed a three-year, $84 million contract with the Vikings over the offseason. Rookie cornerback Mike Hughes, the Vikings' first-round pick out of Central Florida, added an interception return for a touchdown in his NFL debut.
Jimmy Garoppolo, who entered the game with five career interceptions, was picked off three times in the loss. Garoppolo completed 15 of 33 passes for 261 yards and one touchdown to go along with the costly turnovers.
Adam Thielen led the Vikings with six receptions for 102 yards. Dalvin Cook added 95 yards from scrimmage (55 receiving, 40 rushing) out of the backfield for Minnesota.
Rookie wide receiver Dante Pettis scored the 49ers' lone touchdown on a 22-yard grab in the third quarter.
Minnesota opened the scoring with a 48-yard field goal by rookie Daniel Carlson with just under four minutes remaining in the first quarter. Carlson, who stood out at Auburn, was the Vikings' fifth-round pick.
A 22-yard touchdown strike from Cousins to Diggs increased Minnesota's advantage to 10-0 with 13:39 to go in the second quarter. Diggs got outside positioning on 49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon and sprinted down the left sideline to grab a perfectly placed pass from Cousins.
Robbie Gould snapped the 49ers' scoring drought with a 42-yard field goal less than two minutes later.
The Vikings built upon a 10-3 halftime lead thanks to a 28-yard pick-six by Hughes early in the third quarter. The rookie earned a starting spot out of training camp after impressing coaches with his ability to find the ball.
A 33-yard field goal by Gould cut the 49ers' deficit to 17-6 midway through the third quarter.
Minnesota answered forcefully yet again. Cousins found Rudolph on an 11-yard throw in the end zone for the quarterback's second touchdown pass of the afternoon and the 101st of his career.
Garoppolo fared much better on the next drive, which ended with his touchdown pass to Pettis to pull San Francisco within 24-13. A 22-yard chip shot by Gould with 8:13 left in the fourth quarter cut it to 24-16.