After the Cincinnati Bengals won the coin toss and chose to defer to the second half, the Minnesota Vikings got the opportunity to start this Week 15 contest with the football. The kickoff from Randy Bullock was downed in the end zone by Marcus Sherels for a touchback, and Case Keenum and company started from their own 25-yard line. Keenum was sacked on first down by Geno Atkins for a loss of nine, which is obviously not the start we wanted to see.However, Keenum and Latavius Murray made up for that in short order with a gain of 28 yards on a screen pass. Keenum then took off on a scramble for a 20-yard gain, and the Vikings were into Cincy territory at the 33-yard line.
Jerick McKinnon then took a handoff for six more yards, and after a short gain by Murray, Keenum found Adam Thielen on third down and he went down to the 5-yard line for a first-and-goal. McKinnon carried the ball down to the 1, and on second down Murray hammered it home for the touchdown! Kai Forbath added the extra point, and the Vikings quickly found themselves out to a 7-0 lead.
Forbath’s kickoff was downed in the end zone by Alex Erickson for a touchback, and Andy Dalton led the Bengals’ offense out to start at their own 25-yard line. Dalton completed his first pass to C.J. Uzomah for nine yards, but Eric Kendricks and Ben Gedeon stopped Giovani Bernard for a loss on second down. On 3rd-and-3, Dalton’s quick pass intended for Brandon Lafell was knocked away by Terence Newman, and the Bengals were forced to punt. Kevin Huber put his foot to it, and Marcus Sherels got a nice return away, getting taken down at the Minnesota 32-yard line.
The Vikings’ next drive got off to a bad start as well, as David Morgan was flagged for holding to negate a decent run by Murray. Keenum was then nearly intercepted by George Iloka on 1st-and-18. A short pass to C.J. Ham made up some of the distance, but Keenum’s pass to McKinnon on third down was stopped short of the marker. Ryan Quigley came in for his first punt of the day, and Erickson was taken down on a nice special teams tackle by Eric Wilson at the Cincinnati 19-yard line.
Cincinnati started their next drive with a false start by Andre Smith, but Tom Johnson gave it back to them by jumping offside. Josh Malone took an end around for a short gain on first down, and Dalton’s pass for Lafell fell incomplete on second down. On third down, Dalton dropped back to pass and was looking for Erickson, but instead found Eric Kendricks for an interception! Kendricks did the rest himself, as he headed for the right sideline and dove for the pylon for a 31-yard return for a touchdown! Forbath added the extra point, and the Vikings were up 14-0.
Erickson took the ensuing kickoff from Forbath out to the Cincinnati 29-yard line. The Bengals called three consecutive run plays, and they found themselves with 4th-and-short at their own 38-yard line. Bernard took the handoff from Dalton, and he was stopped short of the marker by Ben Gedeon, and Cincinnati turned it over on downs in their own territory.
The drive started, as most drives in this game have, with something bad for the Vikings as Nick Easton was flagged for a false start to make it 1st-and-15. McKinnon was then dropped for a loss by Pat Sims to make it 2nd-and-long, and Keenum was then sacked again by Atkins to make it 3rd-and-longer. Keenum found Kyle Rudolph to get some of the yards back, but not enough for a first down, and they called on Forbath for a 53-yard field goal attempt. He bounced it in off the left upright, and the lead was extended to 17-0.
Erickson elected to take Forbath’s ensuing kickoff out of the end zone, but he was taken down at the Cincinnati 12-yard line. Brian Robison started the drive by sharing a sack of Dalton for a short loss, and Dalton then found Lafell for an 8-yard gain. The Bengals faced another third down, and Dalton failed to find A.J. Green on third down and short. Huber came on to punt again, and Marcus Sherels took it to the Minnesota 40-yard line on the final play of the first quarter.
It’s looking like it might be a blowout early, ladies and gentlemen, as the Vikings lead the Bengals by a score of 17-0 after one quarter of play. Come and join us for the second quarter of action!