The Colts dominated the Vikings in every faze en route to a 28-11 victory. Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings and Indianapolis Colts took the field for Week 2 of the NFL season looking to rebound after tough season-opening losses. Only 12 percent of teams that start the year 0-2 have made it to the NFL playoffs in league history, making Sunday’s clash pivotal for both squads.

Minnesota gained early momentum with a 13-play drive to open the game, taking an early 3-0 lead. When the Vikings snagged an interception to begin the second quarter, they seemed destined to keep the momentum going. After running 13 plays on the first drive, Minnesota’s offense ran 16 plays — featuring a safety, two interceptions and zero points  to end the first half.

After losing Marlon Mack for the season, the Colts put their trust in rookie Jonathan Taylor to carry the offense. Just as we saw at Wisconsin, Taylor proved why he is an unstoppable force. Indianapolis rode its rookie workhorse back, and a rebound performance from its defense led the way in Week 2.

With one of the biggest early games from Week 2 in the books, let’s examine the winners and losers from Colts’ 28-11 victory over the Vikings.

Winner: Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts

When most teams lose their starting running back, especially in an offense that relies on its running game, it leaves a devastating blow. Fortunately, the Colts had Taylor waiting in the wings. On Sunday, he demonstrated why he’ll soon be one of the NFL’s best running backs.

Taylor dominated Minnesota’s defense. It wasn’t one big run that was the highlight of Week 2, but a series of remarkable moments. He just lowers his shoulder and drives through defenders, slipping through arm tackles and overpowering everyone who tries to bring him down. Taylor’s 110-yard, one-touchdown performance carried the Colts and is the reason they won on Sunday.

Loser : Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

This is not the outcome the Vikings visualized when they signed Cousins to another huge extension. He saved his stat line in Week 1 with some big throws in garbage time; the same couldn’t be said this week. It’s even more concerning given he no longer has a defense capable of bailing him out for turnovers.

Not every interception was equally horrific. Cousins’ second pick came on a last-second heave to the end zone to end the first half, but it was still a weak throw by those standards. The concern is Cousins went just 11-of-26 against a secondary that was roasted by Gardner Minshew. The alarm bells are going off in Minnesota, this doesn’t look like a playoff-caliber team.

Winner: T.J. Carrie, Indianapolis Colts

A week after Minshew went 19-of-20 against this secondary, Indianapolis seemed to be in even more trouble when starting cornerback Rock Ya-Sin was ruled out hours before Sunday’s game with a stomach bug. In his absence, the Colts put all their faith in Carrie. The veteran defensive back stepped up monumentally. In a pivotal Week 2 game, Carrie grabbed two interceptions. Turnovers played a huge role in Sunday’s win, but the 30-year-old also stood out in coverage. He’ll be getting a game ball in the locker room.

Loser: Vikings defense is an alarming concern

Minnesota’s front office made some big moves this offseason to overhaul its defense. We knew the cornerbacks would be inexperienced, but the front four was supposed to help take the pressure off the secondary. If the first two games of the season are an indicator of what’s to come, this will be one of the worst defenses in the NFL.

After surrendering 43 points and 522 yards to the Green Bay Packers in Week 1, things didn’t get much better in Week 2. The Colts dominated the Vikings in the trenches, mauling them in the running game and gaining whatever ground they wanted. Even 38-year-old quarterback Philip Rivers found success against this defense. Even when Danielle Hunter returns and pairs with Yannick Ngakoue, it’s hard to imagine the Vikings magically turning things around defensively.

Winner: Mo Alie-Cox, Indianapolis Colts


Colts tight end Mo Alie-Cox stepped up in a huge way vs. the Vikings. Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The story of Week 2 for Indianapolis was players stepping in when starters got hurt. After wide receiver Parris Campbell went down with a knee injury, which could end his season, Allie-Cox stepped up. What makes this story even better, he drew the start because starting tight end Jack Doyle is also sidelined with an injury.

He became Rivers’ go-to target, tying for the team-high in targets (six) in a game with only Colts 25 pass attempts. Allie-Cox made the most of his opportunities, hauling in five receptions for a career-best 111 receiving yards. The numbers are even more impressive given he entered Week 2 with 246 receiving yards in 26 games. With Campbell and Doyle likely sidelined multiple weeks, Allie-Cox should see plenty of targets moving forward.

This article first appeared on Sportsnaut and was syndicated with permission.

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