1. Keenum succeeds with short throws
We’ve seen Case Keenum use deep shots to his advantage this season, as the Vikings have been able to create some big plays by letting the quarterback move out of the pocket and find a receiver downfield. When teams take those big plays away — as the Lions and Falcons have done to Keenum — it can make quarterbacks susceptible to mistakes when they try to force plays. But Keenum did none of that Sunday, quietly completing 25 of his 30 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns. According to Pro Football Focus, only 73 of his passing yards came from the depth of his throws; the remaining 154 were after the catch.
2. Special teams much improved
The Vikings had perhaps their worst special teams performance of the season against the Lions, when they had two blocked kicks and a penalty that wiped out a 38-yard Marcus Sherels kick return. On Sunday, the units were “a lot better,” in coach Mike Zimmer’s words. Ryan Quigley is as good a directional punter as the Vikings have had under special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, and he dropped a perfect punt that went out of bounds at the Falcons 2. After the Vikings forced a three-and-out, their offense took over at midfield and drove for the game’s first touchdown.
3. Vikings win by controlling the clock
It stood to reason that the Vikings would try to hold the ball as much as they could Sunday, to keep Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ dynamic offense off the field. They should be commended, then, for their 34:02 of offensive possession time, and for the second consecutive game in which they have been able to run out the clock after a defensive stop. For the season, the Vikings’ average drive has lasted 2:53; that’s the fifth-highest figure in the NFL.