U.S. Bank Stadium can indeed get loud. Justin Jefferson found that out on Sunday.
As a rookie wide receiver last season for the Vikings, Jefferson didn’t play a single home game in front of fans due to the coronavirus pandemic. But in Sunday’s 30-17 win over Seattle, the first regular-season game with fans at U.S. Bank Stadium since Dec. 29, 2019, Jefferson got a taste of what it’s all about.
“I was sitting on the bench with Justin Jefferson during the first drive and I forgot he had never been in our stadium for a regular-season game with a full crowd like that, and he was saying, ‘Oh, it’s loud in here,’ ” said quarterback Kirk Cousins. “And I kind of looked at him thinking, ‘I guess this is your first time.’ He was really impressed.”
Yes, Jefferson was. After his three-yard touchdown reception from Cousins with 16 seconds left in the half put the Vikings up for good at 21-17, he did his dance “The Griddy,’’ and it was warmly received by the crowd, announced to be 66,729.
“It was crazy,’’ Jefferson said. “It was so energetic.’’
The Vikings, who did have fans for two preseason games last month, made a big deal out of fans returning for the regular season. Among other things, there was a pregame country music concert outside the stadium, and before the game there was an elaborate introduction of players that featured plenty of special effects, including snow coming down in the indoor venue.
“I missed our fans a lot,” said linebacker Eric Kendricks. “They brought the energy. I knew driving to the stadium, I saw everybody out and being rowdy and everybody was excited about the game and it showed.’’
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said kickoff being at 3:25 p.m., rather than noon, might have made the fans even more rowdy.
“It was great,’’ Zimmer said. “It seemed like the fans have been pent up for a year, so I’m glad that they came out. It was nice to have a late-afternoon game where they could hit some of the local establishments before the game.”
Griffen bounces back
After missing one game with a concussion, Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen bounced back.
Griffen had three tackles, including a sack of Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson in the third quarter for a loss of nine yards.
“My sack, I think every big play creates a momentum swing,’’ Griffen said of the play that soon led to the Seahawks punting and the Vikings getting a field goal on their next drive for a 27-17 lead.
Griffen, who returned to the Vikings this season after playing for Dallas and Detroit in 2020, had his first sack for them since Dec. 8, 2019, against Detroit. It came after Griffen had sat out Sept. 19 at Arizona following a Sept. 16 incident in which he swerved to miss a deer and his car hit a tree and he sustained a concussion.
“It’s going to take a little bit, but I’m still getting my feet under me,” Griffen said of not signing with Minnesota until Aug. 23 and then missing some time after the accident. “The more reps I get, the better I feel like I’m going to get.’’
Cousins and 'swag'
Vikings running back Alexander Mattison said Cousins having a locker this season next to the hip Jefferson has led to one change in the quarterback.
“Being around Jet in the locker room, the lockers are switched around a little bit, he has a little more swag to him,’’ Mattison said.
Cousins was asked if that was a good word choice.
“(Tight end) Irv (Smith Jr.) said that a couple months ago, too,’’ Cousins said. “I don’t know. I think if you win it helps.’’
Cousins then joked about the word while referring to Kyle Shanahan, now San Francisco’s coach and once Cousins’ offensive coordinator with Washington.
“Kyle Shanahan used to say that my swag was having no swag,’’ Cousins said. “He told me as a rookie (in 2012) to never change.”
Defense steps up
After allowing 308 yards of total offense in the first half Sunday, the Vikings allowed just 81 in the second half and held the Seahawks.
“Defensively, we started out a little shaky,” Zimmer said. “They gave us some different things that we had to take care of.”
Kendricks called it a case of the defense “settling down.” In the end, the Vikings who entered the game giving up an average of 30.5 points and 420 yards, had their best defensive game of the season.
Jefferson, in his 19th career game, became the fastest receiver in team history to reach 100 catches and now has 108. “It’s a good achievement,” he said. … Inactive for Minnesota were running back Dalvin Cook (ankle), linebacker Anthony Barr (knee), tackle Christian Darrisaw (groin), cornerback Harrison Hand (hamstring), quarterback Kellen Mond and defensive linemen James Lynch and Patrick Jones II. … A source said the Vikings want to re-sign tackle Blake Brandel, who was waived Saturday when running back Ameer Abdullah was signed off the practice squad, to at least the practice squad if he clears waivers Monday. … The Vikings were 9 of 14 on third-down conversions.