The Vikings moved to 2-0 in the preseason with a 25-19 win over the Seattle Seahawks Sunday night.
As most preseason games go, there were plenty of highs and lows. Let’s break it down, Good, Bad and Ugly style.
- Adam Thielen’s 34-yard over-the-shoulder catch in the first quarter was just as pretty as his 34-yarder the week before. Just as Thielen had to sweat out a review in New Orleans to see if he’d scored a touchdown (he didn’t), the wide receiver had to sit through Pete Carroll’s challenge Sunday night to determine whether Thielen pushed off for offensive pass interference. The call stood, and Minnesota wound up with a field goal on the drive.
- Once again, Minnesota generated over 400 yards of offense while not allowing a sack for the second straight game. “The ball is coming out quick,” said Zimmer. “We’re play-action, getting on the perimeter. The quarterback is not stationary in the pocket all the time. I think all those things help the offensive line.” Cousins went 6 of 8 for 68 yards with 45 of those yards going to Thielen, while he remained measured but optimistic about the positive results in protection. “Preseason, can’t read too much into it,” he said. “But that’s a good thing.”
- The Seahawks didn’t score an offensive touchdown against the Vikings’ defense. Seattle’s quarterbacks combined to go just 12 of 27 through the air for 145 yards and a last-second interception. On the ground they were held to 3.3 yards per carry. Head coach Mike Zimmer wasn’t pleased with some defensive breakdowns that led to big plays early on, but the defense bore down in the red zone throughout the night as Seattle went 0 for 3 inside the 20.
- Ifeadi Odenigbo was only credited with 0.5 sacks, but he was frequently in the backfield harassing Paxton Lynch and forced several hurried throws. Through two preseason games he is playing like the Vikings’ third-best defensive end.
- Kyle Sloter was brilliant once again. The third-string quarterback went 11 of 13 for 116 yards and a touchdown pass to Brandon Zylstra, who ended up with five grabs. Sloter now has 10 touchdowns (one rushing) and zero interceptions in 10 career preseason games. “I think for the most part it was a smooth operation,” Sloter said.
- Kaare Vedvik got to showcase just about everything in his arsenal during his first game in Minnesota. The new specialist kicked off throughout the game, punted three times and made his lone extra point attempt. While his punting hangtime might have been a tad low, his average distance of 46.7 was nothing to scoff at. “We’ll just keep looking at him and see where we’re at from there,” said Zimmer, “but we won’t make a decision today.” The Vikings had a chance to let him kick a 59-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter but opted to punt instead.
- An initially promising drive for the first-team offense stalled after some sloppy play in Seattle territory. Kirk Cousins threw too high on a screen pass to Alexander Mattison on first down, which he’d like back. “Would have been a huge gain,” Cousins said. “We just got to connect.” He then fumbled Garrett Bradbury’s snap on second down to set up 3rd and 14, where he was forced to throw the ball away under pressure, leading to a punt.
- Sean Mannion threw an 88-yard Pick 6 to DeShawn Shead when Chad Beebe stopped his route on an attempted crossing pattern. It was Minnesota’s first interception thrown this preseason and wiped out a Vikings red zone opportunity. “It was one bad play,” said Zimmer. “Really it was a miscommunication between Beebe and [Mannion], so we’ll try to clear that up.”
- The Vikings’ running game was persistent but not efficient after an explosive effort last Friday at New Orleans. They ran it an overwhelming 39 times for 137 yards but just 3.5 yards per carry. Alexander Mattison fumbled inside his own 10-yard line but was given a reprieve when officials ruled his forward progress stopped. After the game, however, Zimmer said he liked the way they stuck with the run. It’s also hard to knock the blocking too much when the line didn’t allow a sack.
- Kentrell Brothers dropped a surefire interception that would’ve nixed a Seattle red zone chance. Linebackers practice interceptions every day in practice, so that’s a play he’s expected to make — and needs to make to find a way on the team.
- Cornerback Kris Boyd curiously didn’t contribute in the defensive back rotation, giving Duke Thomas the majority of the second-team reps. Boyd, once thought to be a roster shoe-in, has missed two games and seemingly lost his second-team role. “The [young corners] may have to play,” said Zimmer, “so they need to get going.”
- Holton Hill was ejected from the game in the fourth quarter after an ugly helmet-to-helmet hit on a sliding Paxton Lynch. Jerome Boger’s crew presented the NFL’s official rules video to Twin Cities reporters this week that highlighted ejectable hits, and Hill’s fit the description all too well. It’s another knock against Hill, who is suspended for the season’s first eight games due to substance abuse violations. “Number one, we don’t want to see anybody get hurt,” said Zimmer. “I told Pete (Carroll) that after the game. I was sorry about his quarterback. Number two, he can’t drop his head.” Hill also received a flag for defensive pass interference.
- Thomas, the young corner, made a terrific play to strip Jazz Ferguson of the football in the fourth quarter, but what happened next will end up on a blooper reel. Thomas started celebrating his achievement instead of protecting the loose football, while safety Marcus Epps — inches from gaining possession with no defenders around him — bobbled the ball twice before having it knocked away. Seattle ended up converting a field goal on the drive.
- Zimmer missed a fairly clear chance to challenge a defensive pass interference call potentially committed against Bisi Johnson that could’ve given the ball to the Vikings near the goal line. Instead, Mannion threw his Pick 6 on the very next play. Zimmer seemed exasperated by the new rule after the game. “It’s hard to know when they’re going to call it, when they’re not going to call it,” he said.