1. Joseph returns as unique inside force
Give Vikings nose tackle Linval Joseph an assist on Anthony Harris' second interception in Sunday's 28-12 win over the Falcons at U.S. Bank Stadium. Harris' third-quarter pickoff came in the end zone one play after Joseph seized momentum back by smothering Ito Smith for a 1-yard loss on first-and-goal from the 3. After offseason shoulder surgery and sitting out the preseason, Joseph had four tackles, a sack and two tackles for loss. "We're taught to change the line of scrimmage on goal line," Joseph said. "That was the first play we got to go forward because they were going lateral all game long. I went forward. A lot of bodies, I got free, I looked up, I saw the guy, I grabbed his legs. Great play. Then Anthony really stepped it up."
2. Snap, hold, kick easy as A, B, C
Rookie long snapper Austin Cutting fired five punt snaps and four PAT snaps. So far, so good. Britton Colquitt, signed a week ago, punted five times (49.4 average, 40.2 net) and held on four successful PAT kicks. And veteran kicker Dan Bailey made those PATs and kicked off five times, with two three touchbacks and one return that was stopped at the Atlanta 16. So far, so good for a kicking unit that's had its share of hiccups in recent years. "It was a good day," Bailey said. "Operation was good." Bailey said Colquitt exudes confidence as a holder. "You can tell he's done it for 10 years. He's confident, which gives me confidence coming into the ball. I know he's going to put it where it needs to be and put the laces where they need to be."
3. NFL not too big for Bradbury
Garrett Bradbury joined Mick Tingelhoff and Pat Elflein as the only rookies to start at center in a season opener. He showed he belongs with some strong blocks, including one in which he moved tackle Tyeler Davison out of the way on Dalvin Cook's 7-yard touchdown run. He also had plays that showed he's still a rookie. Two came in the second quarter when 6-foot tackle Grady Jarrett drove him back into Kirk Cousins' face. "It was a lot of fun," he said. "The stadium was unbelievable. I had chills a lot through those Skol chants. It was everything I dreamed it was going to be." He also recovered a Cousins fumble but botched one direct snap. "I was quick on that one snap that was on the ground," he said. "That's on me. I got to correct that."
4. Changing personnel kept Falcons guessing
Offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and his staff did an outstanding job consistently changing up personnel while running out of passing formations and vice versa. Cook's 19-yard touchdown run came with three receivers and one tight end. Adam Thielen's 23-yard touchdown catch came with two tight ends and followed a pass to Cook out of a three tight-end look. Stefon Diggs' 31-yard reception — the team's longest play of the game — came with two tight ends. Tight ends were targeted only once with no catches, but they had a presence. Guard Dakota Dozier also lined up as an eligible tackle when Cousins scored on a 1-yard sneak. "[Changing personnel] just makes it hard on defenses," tight end Kyle Rudolph said.
5. Barr: 'This can't be real'
Somewhere in New York, Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will see the Vikings' first play from scrimmage, shake his head and curse Anthony Barr's decision to back out of a deal with the Jets this past offseason. Granted, Barr's 8-yard sack came unblocked against poor protection that was confused by a simple wrinkle. " I was kind of more surprised than anyone," he said. "I even hesitated for half a second. I was like, 'This can't be real.' But I'll take it." There was no tight end to Matt Ryan's blind side when right end Everson Griffen slid to left tackle Jake Matthews' inside shoulder as Barr shifted forward to Griffen's right. Matthews blocked down, leaving no one between Barr and Ryan. "I'm sure [Ryan] wasn't expecting a free runner on the first play of the game," Barr said.