EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — So much for distractions.
After a turbulent week in which quarterback Kirk Cousins apologized to one of his star wide receivers and another was fined for missing practice, the Vikings rolled to a routine 28-10 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
The Vikings were coming off a 16-6 loss at Chicago, a game in which Adam Thielen caught just two passes for six yards, leading Cousins to apologize on his radio show for not getting him the ball enough. Then Stefon Diggs missed a practice Wednesday and didn’t deny the next day rumors he might want to be traded.
“It was very important,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said of Sunday’s victory. “If we didn’t play well today, the heat would have been pretty hot.”
Tensions have cooled down in a hurry. Cousins completed 22 of 27 passes for 306 yards and two touchdowns, both to Thielen. His 138.6 passer rating was his second best in 21 games with the Vikings.
Thielen caught seven passes for 130 yards as the Vikings (3-2) won their first road game of the season after two losses. He had touchdown receptions of 15 yards on the first play of the second quarter and nine yards in the third quarter.
Diggs, who confirmed he was fined $200,000 for missing a midweek practice and some meetings, caught three passes for 44 yards. He said he didn’t attend practice because of a cold, but the Vikings listed his absence as “not injury related.”
Zimmer declined to say Friday whether Diggs would play against the Giants. He said after Sunday’s game he never had any doubt Diggs would play. Not that he told the receiver.
“It was like (unless) they said, ‘No,’ ” Diggs said. “So I assumed I was going to play.”
After the game, Diggs was more forceful about saying he doesn’t want to be traded. He said, “Yeah, I want to be in Minnesota.”
Cousins found Diggs for a 16-yard completion on the second play of the game. But the receiver wasn’t a big part of the offense, catching three passes for 44 yards.
“We’ve got a lot of horses in the stable, and a lot of guys can have success,” Diggs said.
Coming up big was running back Dalvin Cook, who carried 21 times for 132 yards and caught six passes for 86 yards. But with the Vikings leading 13-7 late in the second quarter, Cook lost a fumble at the Giants’ 1.
No big deal. On the next play, linebacker Anthony Barr stuffed Jon Hilliman in the end zone for a safety that put Minnesota up 15-7.
“Just being aggressive in that situation and single-back set and just trying to get a safety,” said Barr, who also had a fourth-quarter interception. “Just trying to do my job and help the offense when something bad happens, being able to turn it around and make a play to get the offense back on the field.”
The offense didn’t make many mistakes, outgaining the Giants (2-3) 490 yards to 211. The offense had great balance for a change, rolling up 279 net passing yards and 211 rushing.
The defense mostly shut down Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones, who completed 21 of 38 passes for 182 yards and was sacked four times. One of his few bright spots was a 35-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to Darius Slayton, which cut the deficit to 10-7. That prompted Zimmer to yell on the sideline at former all-pro cornerback Xavier Rhodes, beaten on the play.
“I told him what he needs to do better,” Zimmer said.
The Vikings didn’t punt in the first three quarters, and only once all game. Meanwhile, kicker Dan Bailey was busy, booting four field goals.
“I thought we played hard in all three phases,” Zimmer said. “Good team win.”
When Thielen scored on a 9-yard touchdown pass midway through the third quarter, that gave Minnesota a 25-10 lead and all but put the game away.
“All you can say about that is we got the W,” Thielen said of the Vikings overcoming distractions during the week. “It shows what kind of guys we have in this locker room. (Cousins) doesn’t care about what people say about him. He just goes to work. He grinds. He wants to the best football player he can possibly be, and he wants to help this team win games.”
Cousins shrugged off the distractions.
“My preparation was the exact same, this week and last week,” he said. “I have a rhythm and routine that I’ve stuck with for five years now as a starter. I go about my business. I go to work. I keep my head down. The results aren’t always predictable.”
Cousins continued his trend this season of playing well in odd-numbered weeks and poorly in even-numbered weeks. Next up in Week 6 is Philadelphia on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.