It wasn’t exactly pretty, but the Minnesota Vikings got their first victory of 2016, taking down the Cincinnati Bengals in preseason action by a score of 17-16.
The game got off to a bit of a rough start for the Vikings, as the Bengals put themselves in scoring position on the game’s opening drive, only to see kicker Mike Nugent miss a 48-yard field goal attempt. The Minnesota offense followed with a three-and-out that saw quarterback Teddy Bridgewater harassed on every snap.
Cincinnati’s second-team offense then put together one of the longest drives you’ll ever see anywhere. The Bengals moved 89 yards in a whopping 22 plays, converting six third downs on the drive and pushing the ball all the way down to the Minnesota 3-yard line. On 4th-and-1, the Bengals chose to go for it, and running back Cedric Peerman was stuffed by the combination of linebacker Kentrell Brothers and defensive end Danielle Hunter, giving Minnesota the ball back.
The Vikings then answered with the evening’s first score, as Bridgewater led the team 96 yards in ten plays, capping things off with this beautiful 49-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Charles Johnson.
Cincinnati answered with a 3-yard touchdown pass from A.J. McCarron to Alex Erickson late in the second quarter, tying the game at seven. Blair Walsh gave the Vikings a 10-7 lead going into the locker room with a 51-yard bomb that was set up by a nice 18-yard connection from Shaun Hill to rookie Laquon Treadwell.
Minnesota got their final score of the evening early in the third quarter, courtesy of a 10-yard touchdown run by rookie running back C.J. Ham. That put the Vikings ahead 17-7. The teams then exchanged interceptions, with rookie Mackensie Alexander picking off Bengals third-string signal caller Keith Wenning on a fourth down play on the first play of the fourth quarter, and Vikings’ third-stringer Joel Stave getting intercepted by Cincinnati’s Jimmy Wilson on the very next play.
The Bengals quickly cut Minnesota’s lead to 17-16, courtesy of a 23-yard field goal by Nugent and an 80-yard punt return for a score by Erickson. Cincinnati went for a two-point conversion after Erickson’s return, but Joe Licata’s pass for Antwane Grant on the conversion attempt fell incomplete.
Cincinnati had one last opportunity to get themselves into a position to win, but Licata’s long pass on fourth down in Cincinnati territory was intercepted by rookie Jayron Kearse to seal the game.
Statistically, Bridgewater wound up having a pretty good night, going 6-of-7 for 92 yards and the long touchdown pass to Johnson. Johnson’s 49-yard reception gave him the team lead in yardage for the evening, while Treadwell led the team in receptions with four. Treadwell picked up 41 yards on those four catches. Rookie tight end David Morgan also contributed with three grabs for 38 yards. The running game wasn’t much to write home about, with Ham leading the way with 35 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
Defensively, Antone Exum and Justin Trattou each picked up a sack of a Bengals quarterback on the evening, while former Bengal Emmanuel Lamur led the team with eight total tackles.
The Vikings’ next preseason contest will take place on Friday, 19 August, as they fly out to the West Coast to take on the team that ended their 2015 playoff run, the Seattle Seahawks. We will have plenty of coverage of that one leading up to kickoff as well. The Bengals will continue their preseason on the 19th as well, as they make a trip to Michigan to take on the Detroit Lions.
The Minnesota Vikings won their 2016 preseason opener in Cincinnati by a score of 17-16. We hope that you enjoyed our coverage leading up to the preseason opener, and that you’ll make us your source for Minnesota Vikings’ coverage throughout the preseason and into the 2016 regular season.