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Vikings safety Lewis Cine suffered a lower left leg fracture during a punt return in Sunday's 28-25 win against the Saints. He was transported to a London-area hospital, where he'll undergo surgery, coach Kevin O'Connell said after the game.

Cine, the first-round rookie, was blocking on a 23-yard punt return by Jalen Reagor when he was injured at the end of the first quarter. Vikings and Saints players knelt around Cine at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium while he was being evaluated by the team's medical staff, who applied an air cast and carted him off the field. He was immediately ruled out.

"Very tough moment for our team," O'Connell said. "We got him the immediate medical care at a local hospital. From everything I've been told, the local folks here have been phenomenal with Lew. ... We feel strongly not only about the local doctors, but our medical team that will stay back with Lew and will get that fixed up for him. As soon as he's able to make the transition back to the Twin Cities, we'll do that."

Safety Harrison Smith appeared to injure his arm in the final minute on a 32-yard completion to Saints receiver Chris Olave.

Cornerback Cameron Dantzler briefly left the game in the third quarter after he was slow to get up following an incompletion. He was replaced by a rotation of cornerback Kris Boyd and rookie Akayleb Evans. Saints quarterback Andy Dalton targeted Evans on a 33-yard pass to receiver Marquez Callaway.

Linebacker Troy Dye also briefly replaced Eric Kendricks in the second quarter, when Kendricks left following a collision with Saints quarterback/tight end Taysom Hill and was evaluated for a nose injury, according to the team.

"That's the worst part of the game," Kendricks said of injuries. "[Cine's] been grinding. It's hard enough as a rookie."

Edge rusher Za'Darius Smith played after being listed questionable because of a knee injury suffered against the Lions. He had a third-down sack in the first quarter.

Running back Dalvin Cook played with a brace on his left shoulder, which was partly dislocated last week against the Lions. He had 86 yards on 22 touches and intends to wear the brace for the rest of the season, according to the TV broadcast.

Receiver Adam Thielen, who had eight catches for 72 yards, played with a wrap on his right calf and said he's "nicked up" but shouldn't miss time.

"I'm banged up a little bit, but I feel better after a win," Thielen said. "Thankfully I feel good enough to play."

New play pays off

During the Vikings' week of practice before the Saints game, the Vikings installed a fake punt they believed could net them a big play against New Orleans' punt coverage. They would put wide receiver Jalen Nailor, their gunner on punts, in motion from the left side of their formation to the right side, knowing the Saints would have to honor the possibility the motion simply meant a directional punt was coming, and Nailor would be wide open on a corner route.

"When a guy comes in motion, they're expecting me to punt the ball to the left," punter Ryan Wright said. "And if I do punt it to the left, our gunner has a clear shot to the returner. The other team's probably not expecting a rookie to throw the ball."

Wright, a former high school quarterback, and Nailor estimated they worked on the play "a hundred times," almost always with Wright hitting Nailor in stride. Even on an earlier punt on Sunday, they motioned Nailor to set it up.

"We were setting it up to see how they were playing it, and we got what we wanted," Nailor said.

On Sunday, though, when Wright dropped back, he said, "my heart raced a little bit." His pass fluttered short of Nailor, who had to work back to the ball for a diving catch.

But the play worked in the end: Nailor caught it for a 13-yard completion that gave the Vikings a key first down on a drive that would end with a Greg Joseph field goal.

Saints offense thinned

New Orleans essentially ruled out three offensive starters days before kickoff: quarterback Jameis Winston (back/ankle), receiver Michael Thomas (foot) and guard Andrus Peat (concussion). Then running back Alvin Kamara (ribs) was among the inactives hours before kickoff, and running back Mark Ingram (hand/thumb) left briefly in the third quarter.

Latavius Murray, a former Vikings running back, stepped into a larger role and had a 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Murray finished with 11 carries for 57 yards and the score.


  • Quarterback Kirk Cousins was under duress at times against the Saints, taking a season-worst three sacks among eight hits on the afternoon. Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport pressured Cousins when he threw behind receiver Justin Jefferson in the end zone before the Vikings ultimately settled for a field goal.
  • Thielen had custom-made cleats featuring an image of Jason Sudeikis as Ted Lasso from the popular Apple TV show: "Love the show, saw Jason was here at the game," Thielen said. "Thought it'd be a cool tribute."

The Star Tribune did not send the writer of this article to the game. This was written using a broadcast, news conference videos and other material. Staff writer Ben Goessling contributed reporting from London.