"We just executed better," free safety Harrison Smith said, "and things worked out."
Minnesota scored a pair of defensive touchdowns and kept Tennessee off the board until a garbage-time score in the last minutes as it rallied from a 10-0 deficit to notch a 25-16 verdict in both teams' opener at Nissan Stadium.
After controlling the ball for more than 17 1/2 minutes and producing 194 total yards in the first half, the Titans managed only 122 total yards, 74 coming on their meaningless touchdown drive that feebly answered 25 straight Vikings points.
Minnesota's defense won the scrimmage line more consistently, forcing Tennessee out of its power running game and generating pressure on quarterback Marcus Mariota. While Mariota threw for 271 yards and a pair of touchdowns to running back DeMarco Murray, he also committed two game-changing turnovers.
"They were excited and I was excited," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said of his defense. "We were all trying to make great calls and everything. It was all a matter of letting them play, do what they do."
Linebacker Eric Kendricks put Minnesota ahead to stay, picking an ill-advised pass with 1:24 remaining in the third quarter and lugging it 77 yards down the right sideline for a 12-10 lead. Mariota rushed the throw off his back foot and with very little zip.
The interception also denied Tennessee a chance at a long field goal try that could have upped its lead to seven points.
"You're moving the ball, the defense is playing great, and we just kind of gave them the game," Mariota said. "We were being efficient, but the turnovers really hurt us."
The second turnover occurred on the first play after Blair Walsh's third field goal, a 45-yarder with 11:17 remaining that upped the Vikings' lead to 15-10. Mariota and Murray failed to execute a simple handoff and defensive end Danielle Hunter recovered, lumbering 22 yards to make it a 22-10 game.
Minnesota's offense was mostly moribund. Star running back Adrian Peterson managed just 31 yards on 19 carries, five of which lost yardage. Quarterback Shaun Hill, who replaced Teddy Bridgewater late last night after Bridgewater suffered an ACL tear on Aug. 30, collected 236 yards on 18-of-33 passing but also missed at least two wide open receivers on deep passes.
"I thought Shaun played well," Zimmer said. "He took care of the football and made good plays. One thing was I told him that he didn't have to be anyone else but himself."
After missing 37 and 56-yard field goals in the first half, his first meaningful kicks since fanning a 27-yard try that would have won an NFC wild-card game against Seattle, Walsh converted 50, 34 and 30-yard attempts in addition to his 45-yarder.
The Titans won the scrimmage line for most of the first half, taking a 3-0 lead on Ryan Succop's 28-yard field goal with 4:45 left in the first quarter and stretching it to 10 with a tremendous effort by Murray.
The 2014 NFL Offensive Player of the Year flashed that form on 2nd-and-goal at the 6 with 41 seconds remaining before halftime, taking Mariota's swing pass and flipping over a tackler into the end zone to cap a 13-play, 73-yard drive.
The duo connected again with 28 seconds left on a 4-yard scoring strike, but by then, the outcome was decided. Tennessee fell to 2-15 in its last 17 home games since the 2014 season's start, both wins happening at the Jacksonville Jaguars' expense.
"This is something to learn from," Mariota said. "We just beat ourselves."
NOTES: WR Kendall Wright (left hamstring) topped the Tennessee list of inactives, which also included QB Alex Tanney, CB LeShaun Sims, OLB Aaron Wallace, G Josh Kline, G Sebastian Tretola and TE Jace Amaro. ... Minnesota's inactives included starting CB Xavier Rhodes (knee), as well as WR Jarius Wright, LBs Kentrell Brothers and Edmond Robinson, C Nick Easton, T Jeremiah Sirles and TE MyCole Pruitt. ... Titans WR Tajae Sharpe became the franchise's first rookie to start at his position in a season opener.