In the first game of the post-Teddy Bridgewater era for the Minnesota Vikings, the team showed that they’ve got some pretty solid depth and that there are going to be some quality players getting pink slips on Saturday when the final cuts come down.
The Vikings capped an undefeated preseason by taking down the Los Angeles Rams in Thursday’s preseason finale by a final score of 27-25 at U.S. Bank Stadium, and did it largely on the strength of their defense.
Minnesota found themselves down early, as the Rams took the opening kickoff and marched down the field. Rookie quarterback Jared Goff, the #1 overall pick in this past NFL Draft, connected on passes of 22 and 30 yards to get the Rams into scoring territory, and then found veteran Kenny Britt on a 1-yard scoring pass to give Los Angeles an early 7-0 lead.
The teams then exchanged punts on the next eight possessions, four for the Vikings and four for the Rams. Minnesota caught a break when Rams’ returner D’Haquille Williams muffed a catch attempt at the Los Angeles 19-yard line that was recovered by Jayron Kearse, but the Vikings could only manage a 30-yard field goal by Blair Walsh to make it 7-3. On the Rams’ next possession, a shotgun snap went awry for the Rams and resulted in another fumble recovery, this time by Stephen Weatherly at the Los Angeles 9-yard line, but the Vikings could again only manage a field goal. Walsh connected from 34, and the score move to 7-6.
The rough night for Goff continued, as his first pass on the next possession was tipped by Justin Trattou and intercepted by a diving Toby Johnson at the Los Angeles 28. Minnesota capped the ensuing drive with a score, as Brad Sorensen hit running back Jhurell Pressley with a short pass that turned into a 28-yard touchdown. Walsh hit the extra point, and was had been a 7-0 deficit turned into a 13-7 Minnesota lead going into the locker room at halftime.
Los Angeles got on the board again in the third quarter on a 35-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein to cut the Minnesota lead to 13-10. Right after that, however, Pressley struck again, taking the ensuing kickoff six yards deep in the end zone and taking it to the house for a 106-yard touchdown, and the Walsh extra point pushed the Vikings lead to 20-10.
Another mishandled punt lead to another Minnesota touchdown, as Paul McRoberts muffed another Jeff Locke punt attempt, and rookie David Morgan recovered it at the Rams’ 6-yard line. Three plays later, and three straight carries by C.J. Ham later, the rookie went over from one yard out to give the Vikings a 27-10 lead.
The Rams went on a couple of late touchdown drives, scoring on a 2-yard pass from Sean Mannion to Paul McRoberts and a 26-yard run by Aaron Green. However, with the score sitting at 27-25 and starting from their own 39-yard line, Mannion was sacked on consecutive plays. The third down sack was split between Travis Raciti and Stephen Weatherly, while the sack on fourth down by Zach Moore sealed the victory for Minnesota.
It certainly wasn’t pretty offensively for the Vikings in this one. Joel Stave, who is now one play away from taking meaningful snaps for the Vikings offense, started this one and went just 6-of-16 for 76 yards. Brad Sorensen, newly resigned yesterday after the Bridgewater injury, completed just 4-of-9 for 53 yards and the touchdown pass to Pressley.
In the running game, Ham carried the ball 15 times for 59 yards and a score, while Pressley managed just 29 yards on 14 carries. Pressley did lead the receiving stats with four grabs for 49 yards and a touchdown. Jarius Wright, who saw a lot of action in this one after dealing with a hamstring injury this preseason, caught three passes for 35 yards.
With the victory, the Vikings are now 12-1 in the preseason during Mike Zimmer’s head coaching tenure. Again, it doesn’t count for much, but wins are still nice.
The next big date for the Vikings, as well as the other 31 NFL teams, is this coming Saturday, 3 September. Teams must have their rosters reduced to 53 players by that time, and with the events of the past few days, it will be interesting to see exactly how the Minnesota Vikings handle things.
The Vikings finish their second undefeated preseason in three years with a 27-25 victory over the Los Angeles Rams at U.S. Bank Stadium. Thank you to everybody that got their coverage of today’s game right here at The Daily Norseman, and now it’s time to start getting geared up for the regular season.