Cousins, Murray lift Vikings past Darnold, Jets 37-17
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Kirk Cousins threw two touchdown passes, Latavius Murray ran for two scores, and the Minnesota Vikings pulled away in the second half to beat the New York Jets 37-17 on Sunday for their third straight victory.
Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen became the fifth player in NFL history to get at least 100 yards receiving in seven consecutive games, catching nine passes for 110 yards and a touchdown.
Murray, coming off career-high 155 yards rushing against Arizona, finished with 69 yards on 15 carries to help lift the Vikings (4-2-1) to their first win against the Jets on the road after losing the first five meetings away from home.
In his first game against the Jets (3-4) since spurning their massive offer in free agency, Cousins was far from spectacular but made some big plays late. With the game still hanging in the balance and the Vikings facing fourth-and-8 from the 34, Cousins connected with Aldrick Robinson for a TD to seal it.
Cousins, 25 of 40 for 241 yards, opted to turn down New York's three-year, $90 million deal in the offseason and instead chose to go to Minnesota, which actually signed him to a deal worth $6 million less. The Jets then turned their attention to the draft, where they selected Sam Darnold with the No. 3 overall pick.
In their first meeting, Cousins came out on top — while Darnold struggled on a cold, windy day.
The rookie was 17 of 42 for 206 yards with a TD pass to Chris Herndon and a TD run, but was intercepted three times as New York's two-game winning streak ended.
The Vikings took a 17-point lead early in the fourth quarter when Murray followed a 23-yard run with a 38-yard touchdown scamper, his second score of the game.
New York wasn't done, though.
Darnold's 17-yard throw to Herndon was initially called a touchdown, but it was ruled after a video review that the tight end's heel went out of bounds at the 1. Darnold went in on a quarterback sneak on the next play for the first rushing score of his career, making it 27-17.
After the Vikings went three-and-out, Darnold went deep to Robby Anderson, whose legs got tangled with Xavier Rhodes and both needed to be checked by trainers. Anderson was OK, but Rhodes was helped off the field without putting weight on his left leg.
Holton Hill came on in place of Rhodes and immediately picked off Darnold's pass intended for Andre Roberts. Seven plays later, Cousins put the game away with his TD toss to Robinson.
Minnesota took a 17-7 lead halfway through the third quarter on Murray's 11-yard touchdown run on a drive that was prolonged by the game's first converted third-down opportunity by either team, a 13-yard catch by Thielen. The Vikings had been 0 for 8 on third down before that conversion.
On the Jets' next play from scrimmage, Darnold threw a long pass down the left sideline that was intended for Anderson but tipped by Rhodes and right into the hands of Harrison Smith, who returned it 52 yards to the New York 9.
The Jets kept Cousins & Co. out of the end zone, with the Vikings settling for a 22-yarder from Dan Bailey to go up 20-7 with 5:49 left in the third quarter.
Jason Myers, who set the franchise record with seven field goals last Sunday, kicked a 55-yarder to cut the Jets' deficit to 10 with 2:39 remaining in the third. New York converted its first third down of the game after missing on its first seven opportunities on Darnold's 6-yard run on third-and-5, but the drive was short-circuited by drops by Isaiah Crowell and Eric Tomlinson.
THIELEN FEELIN' IT
Thielen reached his milestone with a 21-yard catch in the fourth quarter. He joined Detroit's Calvin Johnson (eight, 2012), Denver's Demaryius Thomas (seven, 2014), Dallas' Michael Irvin (seven, 1995) and Houston's Charley Hennigan (seven, 1961) to accomplish the feat.
He and Hennigan are the only players to do so in his team's first seven games to open the season.
Vikings: LG Tom Compton left in the first quarter with a knee injury and didn't return. He was replaced by Danny Isidora. ... LB Anthony Barr left in the fourth with a hamstring injury.
Jets: RB Bilal Powell was ruled out after injuring his neck during a 2-yard run in the second quarter. ... S Doug Middleton, starting in place of the injured Marcus Maye, also left in the second with a shoulder injury and didn't return.
There were no displays of protest during the singing of the national anthem.
Vikings: home vs. New Orleans next Sunday.
Jets: at Chicago next Sunday.
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