1. Cleaner pockets don’t result in more production
The Vikings gave quarterback Kirk Cousins better protection on Sunday than they had in recent weeks, allowing him to be pressured on only 28.3 percent of his dropbacks, according to Pro Football Focus. But Cousins wasn’t able to find more room to throw against a Patriots defense intent on taking away Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. According to PFF, he threw for just 152 yards on his 33 attempts from a clean pocket, with his touchdown to Thielen and an interception among those attempts.
2. Rough start, better second half for Alexander
Cornerback Mackensie Alexander, listed as questionable before the game with a knee injury, got off to an inauspicious start. Alexander gave up a 13-yard completion while playing off Julian Edelman, and was pulled from the game after giving up a 24-yard completion to Cordarrelle Patterson when he jumped inside after Patterson set up to block. His blitz helped blow up a direct snap to James White on third-and-1 in the second quarter, though, and he made a diving pass breakup on a third-and-15 in the third quarter.
3. Holding penalties short-circuit drives
The Vikings’ linemen were flagged for three holding penalties, two of which scuttled drives. A second-quarter penalty on Tom Compton took the Vikings out of Patriots territory, setting up a second-and-17, and a fourth-quarter flag on Riley Reiff also pushed the Vikings back into their own territory, where they faced a second-and-20 from their own 43, before three short throws from Cousins to Adam Thielen and Laquon Treadwell effectively ended the game.