To start this NFL International Series matchup at Twickenham Stadium, the Minnesota Vikings lost the coin toss for the first time in a while, meaning the Cleveland Browns got their choice this time. Cleveland chose to defer to the second half, meaning that the Vikings got the opportunity to have the football first. The kickoff from Zane Gonzalez went into the end zone for a touchback, giving Case Keenum and company the football at the 25 to start things off.
Minnesota got a first down on Stefon Diggs’ first catch in three weeks on their first third down of the afternoon. However, on the next third down situation, Keenum had a pass deflected into the air by a Browns’ defender and intercepted by linebacker Joe Schobert for an early turnover.
DeShone Kizer led the Cleveland offense out on the field after the turnover on a short field at the Minnesota 37-yard line, and took just two plays to find the end zone. First, Kizer found David Njoku on a screen for 11 yards, and then Isaiah Crowell took a handoff from Kizer and ripped through the Vikings’ defense for a 26-yard touchdown. Gonzalez missed the extra point, but the Browns still had an early 6-0 lead.
Marcus Sherels once again took a knee in the end zone on the next kickoff, giving the Vikings the ball at the 25 again. They converted another third down on another connection from Keenum to Diggs, but could not convert another as Keenum overthrew Jarius Wright on third down. Ryan Quigley came on for his first punt of the afternoon, and the return was muffed by Bryce Treggs. Emmanuel Lamur pounced on the ball at the Cleveland 20. A penalty on linebacker Eric Wilson for “pulling players off the pile” gave Minnesota the ball at the Browns’ 35-yard line.
After a couple of negative plays, Keenum found Adam Thielen for a big 17-yard pass to convert another third down to the Cleveland 23. However, Keenum and Thielen could not connect on the next third down, leaving the Vikings to call on Kai Forbath for a 35-yard field goal attempt. Forbath split the uprights, and the Browns’ lead was reduced to 6-3.
Forbath’s kickoff went through the end zone for a touchback, giving the Browns the ball at their own 25. Cleveland picked up a first down in a couple of plays, but the Vikings’ defense got off the field as Kizer misfired deep on third down. Britton Colquitt came on to punt for the Browns, and Stacy Coley (who was back with Marcus Sherels) called for a fair catch at the Minnesota 15.
Minnesota picked up a first down on a pass to Kyle Rudolph and a run by Latavius Murray. Murray then ripped off a 11-yard run to move the chains once again, but a holding penalty on Rashod Hill (who is in at right tackle for Mike Remmers) made it 2nd-and-21. The Vikings couldn’t convert on third down, so Quigley came in to punt again. Bryce Treggs called for the fair catch at the Cleveland 36-yard line.
As we move to the second quarter, the Browns are looking at 2nd-and-7 from their own 39-yard line.
The Vikings trail the Browns early by a score of 6-3. Can this team get it turned around?