If the third preseason game is supposed to be an indication of what fans can look forward to in the regular season, then the Minnesota Vikings’ starters didn’t provide a whole lot for fans looking for reasons to be optimistic. But, there was plenty of drama at the end, and after all was said and done, it turned out to be a pretty enjoyable football game.
The final score may have indicated a 32-31 victory for the Vikings over the San Francisco 49ers, but during the team that the teams had their starters in the game, it wasn’t nearly that close.
The Vikings got the football first in this one, and the first drive was a disaster that featured a big loss on a swing pass from Sam Bradford to Dalvin Cook and a fumble on the exchange for a three-and-out. After the punt, the Niners got themselves two first downs on passes from Brian Hoyer to Pierre Garcon and were quickly into Minnesota territory. Then, Hoyer dropped back to pass and found Marquise Goodwin wide open down the middle of the field for a 46-yard touchdown pass, and the Vikings quickly found themselves down by a score of 7-0.
The second drive went better for the Vikings. . .it really couldn’t have gone worse. A couple of Dalvin Cook runs and a penalty on the 49ers gave the Vikings a first down, and another got the Vikings over the midfield stripe. Unfortunately, Bradford was sacked twice in three plays, and the Vikings were forced to punt it away again. The Niners then put together a very nice drive once again, and on the first play of the second quarter Hoyer found Carlos Hyde for a 24-yard touchdown to make the score 14-0, and the Vikings’ starters just got scorched on both sides of the ball.
The Vikings picked up a first down on their next drive, but it didn’t amount to much and they were forced to punt once more. On the next drive, the Vikings actually stopped the juggernaut Niners offense and made them punt it back after a three-and-out. Minnesota managed a couple of first downs on their next possession, but once again could not get past midfield and punted it back.
There really wasn’t anything eventful for the rest of the first half, but the Vikings’ first team offense and defense looked relatively awful. A San Francisco team that went 2-14 last season went up and down the field on offense early on, and the Minnesota offense did little in the way of moving the football. San Francisco went into the locker room with a 14-0 lead. The Vikings did get a long pass from Bradford to Adam Thielen as the clock was winding down, but did not get down in time to kill the clock. Pretty fitting end to the first half of football for the purple.
Minnesota got on the board early in the second half, courtesy of a 58-yard field goal from Marshall Koehn. Koehn, who is battling with Kai Forbath for the kicking spot, handled all of Minnesota’s kicking duties in this one. The Niners got the points back on another long field goal, this one a 55-yarder by Nick Rose to make the score 17-3.
The Vikings finally got a touchdown late in the third quarter on an almost-underhand flip from Case Keenum to Rodney Adams, who took it in for a 9-yard score to make it 17-10. The Niners then responded with a screen pass on a 3rd-and-23 that the Niners turned into an 87-yard touchdown by Raheem Mostert. Ugly tackling all around by the purple on that play, which you’ll definitely see on a replay somewhere.
Not to be outdone, Jerick McKinnon took the ensuing kickoff and did his best Cordarrelle Patterson impression, taking it back 108 yards for a touchdown, with Koehn’s extra point making it 24-17.
Mostert picked up another touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to extend San Francisco’s lead to 31-17. On the ensuing drive, Keenum. . .who played most of the second half at quarterback. . .led the Vikings down the field again, and connected with Kyle Carter for a 16-yard touchdown, with Koehn’s extra point making it 31-24 with about six minutes remaining.
Taylor Heinicke then came in at quarterback and marched the Vikings down the field, pushing the Vikings all the way down to the San Francisco 4-yard line. A pass interference penalty on the Niners with one second left gave the Vikings one last offensive play, and Terrell Newby took the ball over the goal line for a touchdown to make it 31-30. The Vikings went for two to (presumably) avoid overtime, and Heinicke got flushed out of the pocket to his right and sprinted to the corner of the end zone for the two-point conversion and a 32-31 Minnesota victory.
Looking at the stat column, Bradford finished his evening with 17 completions on 21 throws for 134 yards. Keenum had a very good night, completing 10-of-14 passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns. To close things out, Heinicke went 8-of-12 for 73 yards and what turned out to be the winning two-point conversion.
In the rushing column, Dalvin Cook carried the ball five times for 17 yards. Jerick McKinnon wound up leading the team in rushing with 27 yards on seven carries, and Latavius Murray had two carries for six yards. Adam Thielen had one carry that resulted in a one-yard loss.
Looking at the receivers, Adam Thielen caught five passes for 50 yards on the evening, and Laquon Treadwell caught three balls for 36 yards in his first game action of the preseason. The Vikings were led in receiving by rookie Stacy Coley, who had 76 yards on four catches.
The Vikings move to 2-1 on the preseason, and will wrap things up at U.S. Bank Stadium on Thursday night against the Miami Dolphins. The 49ers fall to 1-2, and will finish the preseason on Thursday against their in-state rivals, the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Vikings pull out a pretty exciting victory in preseason Week 3, as they defeat the San Francisco 49ers on the final play of the game. Thanks to everyone that got their coverage of tonight’s game right here at The Daily Norseman!