Sun, 03 Dec 2023

Vikings, Saints looking for fast starts in London

Field Level Media
02 Oct 2022, 07:55 GMT+10

The Minnesota Vikings overcame two different double-digit deficits to win their last game.

The New Orleans Saints are getting tired of having to overcome deficits.

Both teams will be looking to get off to better starts when they meet Sunday in London, though the Saints will be without their starting signal caller as Andy Dalton will start at quarterback with Jameis Winston (back, ankle) ruled out.

The Vikings (2-1) outscored Detroit 14-0 in the fourth quarter, scoring the winning points on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins to K.J. Osborn with 45 seconds left to produce a 28-24 victory in Week 3.

"There was no flinch on our sideline," said Minnesota coach Kevin O'Connell, whose team trailed 14-0 in the second quarter and tied the score before falling into another hole. "You don't want to have to come back from two double-digit deficits, but it's big that we responded."

The Saints (1-2) have played from behind for most of their first three games.

In their opener they fell behind Atlanta early in the second quarter and trailed by 16 points early in the fourth before taking the lead with 19 seconds left in a 27-26 victory.

The next week they entered the fourth quarter tied at 3-3 with Tampa Bay before the Buccaneers scored 17 points in a 3 1/2-minute stretch to win 20-10.

Last week at Carolina, they fell behind in the first quarter and never caught up, trailing by as many as 15 points in a 22-14 defeat.

"We've got to eliminate those mistakes that are keeping us from winning," New Orleans coach Dennis Allen said.

The Saints have committed the most turnovers in the NFL (nine), with eight coming over the last two games, including an interception and a fumble that were returned for touchdowns. They're also tied for the second-most penalties in the NFL with 24.

"I think our mindset is in the right place," tackle James Hurst said. "We know we can't have those turnovers and expect to win games, especially close games. It's setting us behind the eight ball."

The deficits have forced the Saints to lean almost exclusively on the passing game and a hurry-up approach in the fourth quarter, which is when they have scored 38 of their 51 points.

In London, the passing game will be in the hands of Dalton, who will start in place of Winston after the latter was ruled out Saturday night due to a back injury suffered in the opener and an ankle injury in practice last week.

"... Andy will be ready to go if that's the direction that we go," Allen said before Winston was ruled out.

Dalton will be without wide receiver Michael Thomas (foot), who was ruled out, as was safety Marcus Maye (ribs). Wideout Jarvis Landry (ankle) and running back Alvin Kamara (ribs) are questionable.

The Vikings' injury outlook improved on Thursday, with running back Dalvin Cook (shoulder) and fullback C.J. Ham (foot) full participants in practice after sitting out Wednesday. Linebacker Za'Darius Smith (knee) did not practice either day.

New Orleans and Minnesota took different approaches to the long trip and time change that comes with playing in London.

The Saints flew to London straight from Carolina to get an early start on adjusting to the time change.

The Vikings, who opened the season with a late-afternoon-start and then played on Monday night before having a noon kickoff last week, didn't arrive in London until Friday.

"I think there are pros and cons to both," Cousins said. "I can understand why they left when they did and I can understand why we're leaving when we are."

--Field Level Media

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