On Sunday afternoon, the world got its first true glimpse of the splendor of U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. The San Diego Chargers came to town to take on the Minnesota Vikings, and the home team sent the fans home happy, even if the game didn’t really count.
Minnesota’s defense once again showed it is a force to be reckoned with, and the offense put up points in a couple of different ways en route to a 23-10 victory on Sunday afternoon.
Minnesota got the scoring started on their first possession, as they marched 68 yards in eight plays after taking the opening kickoff. The offense stalled in the red zone, however, and the Vikings had to settle for a 23-yard field goal from Blair Walsh to give themselves an early 3-0 lead. Following an interception of Philip Rivers by Harrison Smith, the Vikings again got to the shadow of the goal line, but a sack of Teddy Bridgewater forced them to settle for another field goal. Walsh hit from 33, and made the score 6-0.
Midway through the second quarter, the Vikings made one of their few defensive missteps in the contest, sending the house on a blitz and allowing Chargers’ running back Melvin Gordon to blow through the defense for a 39-yard touchdown run. Gordon got through the first level of the defense, and after safety Michael Griffin took a bad angle, there was nothing to stop Gordon from reaching the end zone. With the extra point, the Chargers took a 7-6 lead.
After the Chargers tacked on a field goal to make the score 10-6, Bridgewater led the Vikings out onto the field with under two minutes remaining in the half. It didn’t take the offense long to find the end zone, as Bridgewater connected on passes of 19 yards to Charles Johnson and 22 yards to Stefon Diggs before concluding the drive with a 27-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph. All of the throws from Bridgewater on the drive were very impressive, and he moved the team down the field in just over a minute. A 2-point conversion attempt by Matt Asiata was stopped short, and the Vikings took a 12-10 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Minnesota added to their lead early in the third quarter on a bit of a fluke play. Backup quarterback Shaun Hill completed a short pass to tight end MyCole Pruitt, and Pruitt rumbled towards the end zone. A couple of yards from the goal line, Pruitt was stripped and the ball went bouncing into the end zone, where receiver Cordarrelle Patterson alertly jumped on it for a Minnesota touchdown. The Vikings managed a successful two-point conversion on a fade from Hill to Laquon Treadwell, and the Vikings moved their lead to 20-10.
Walsh added another 23-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter to extend the Minnesota lead to 23-10. That was how it ended, giving the Vikings their first victory at U.S. Bank Stadium and pushing their record in this preseason to 3-0.
Bridgewater looked very impressive as he played the entire first half in this one. He completed 12-of-16 passes for 161 yards and the touchdown to Rudolph. It looks like his arm strength really has improved, and he continued to remain calm in the face of some pretty decent pressure from the San Diego defense. Jerick McKinnon led the team in rushing with 56 yards on 8 carries, including a big 35-yarder on the Vikings’ first drive. Stefon Diggs paced the team in the receiving department, bringing in five catches for 71 yards.
Defensively, the Vikings were solid once again. In addition to allowing just the ten points, the purple and gold collected three interceptions. . .one each for Harrison Smith, Jayron Kearse, and Mackensie Alexander. Justin Trattou, who celebrated his birthday on Sunday, chipped in on the defensive effort with a pair of quarterback sacks.
The Vikings will wrap up their preseason on Thursday evening at U.S. Bank Stadium, as they will play host to the Los Angeles Rams. The Chargers fall to 1-2 on the preseason, and will also wrap up their preseason slate on Thursday as they play host to the San Francisco 49ers.
Minnesota wins the first NFL contest at U.S. Bank Stadium by a final score of 23-10. Thank you to everybody that got their coverage of this weekend’s game right here at The Daily Norseman.