It was a brief sample size, and none of it actually counted, but there was still plenty to be excited about.
The Minnesota Vikings beat the Denver Broncos 42-28 in their 2018 preseason debut on Saturday night. The first teamers on both sides of the ball looked great. A lot of the people on the second and third teams did not look great. And while we’re really not supposed to care much about these small preseason sample sizes, it was hard not to at least get a little excited about what might be to come after last night. So let’s dive into some of the more impactful plays while we keep reminding ourselves that it’s just the preseason.
Play 1: Vikings ball, 2nd & 3 at the Denver 31. First quarter, 10:31 remaining. K.Cousins pass deep right to S.Diggs to DEN 3 for 28 yards (B.Roby).
A clean pocket. A great pass from the new quarterback. An amazing catch by the newly extended star receiver. I don’t know about you, but I was certainly...excited about this play.
Perhaps more importantly, Stefon Diggs and Kirk Cousins followed up this great throw and catch with a touchdown three plays later. Settling for three would have been a letdown on multiple levels, so it was nice to see them finish off the promising drive.
Play 2: Broncos ball, 2nd & 7 at the Denver 15. First quarter, 2:59 remaining. (Shotgun) P.Lynch pass short middle intended for A.Traylor INTERCEPTED by A.Harris (J.Tocho) [E.Wilson] at DEN 27. A.Harris to DEN 23 for 4 yards (D.Hamilton).
Paxton Lynch made a really good case for Chad Kelly being the QB2 in Denver last night, but this was still a really nice play from the Vikings defense.
Eric Wilson timed his blitz perfectly to force an early throw from Lynch. Jack Tocho and Ben Gedeon jumped the route to force the deflection, and Anthony Harris was in the right place at the right time to snatch the interception. There were some definite issues with the reserves—for instance, Tocho was directly involved with both Vikings interceptions and still had a pretty terrible game overall—but the defense was on point to start the game. In fact, the Broncos had actually had more touchdowns (2) than first downs (1) at halftime. (We’ll get to the special teams in a bit.)
Play 3: Vikings ball, 2nd & 7 at the Minnesota 22. Second quarter, 5:12 remaining. (Shotgun) T.Siemian pass short left to R.Thomas for 78 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
So far in Training Camp, I thought that Mike Boone had the edge in the competition for the third running back spot. And after a couple solid runs by Boone in the first half, my opinion appeared to be justified.
But then #VikingsTwitter suddenly turned into #RocNation.
Roc Thomas’ second receiving touchdown of the first half was a beauty. Trevor Siemian delivered a nice touch pass with pressure in his face. Aviante Collins did a great job of sealing his man to spring Thomas. Josh Andrews , who didn’t have a great game overall, made a nice hustle play to free up space downfield. And Thomas did the rest.
There is still plenty of time for Boone and Mack Brown to make their case, but there was little doubt who made the best first impression in the competition.
Play 4: Vikings ball, 4th & 5 at the Minnesota 30. Second quarter, 2:00 remaining. R.Quigley punts 48 yards to DEN 22, Center-K.McDermott. I.McKenzie for 78 yards, TOUCHDOWN. PENALTY on MIN, Unsportsmanlike Conduct, 15 yards, enforced between downs.
Let’s call this a “teachable moment” for Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer.
After Isaiah McKenzie took what seemed like an eternity to pick a lane on this punt return, he finally found one down the left sideline. The blown punt coverage and poor tackling will certainly be addressed in the film room this week.
But hey, it wasn’t all bad news with the special teams!
Play 5: Vikings ball, 4th & 10 at the Denver 39. Third quarter, 5:55 remaining. D.Carlson 57 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-K.McDermott, Holder-R.Quigley.
It is now officially Daniel Carlson’s kicker job to lose.
Yes, this 57-yard kick was aided by the Denver altitude. But Carlson’s leg strength has never been in question. His accuracy was much more important; Carlson comfortably made all six of his kicks on Saturday night. Kai Forbath making this team appears to be nearly impossible at the moment.
There were a handful of other plays that could have made this list; the back shoulder throw to Stacy Coley, the two long runs by Latavius Murray, and both touchdowns from Kyle Sloter come to mind. As we always do with this article, we welcome your input on which of these plays had the most impact in the poll below. If you think we missed a few others that should have been included, please add them in the comments.
What was the most important play of the Vikings’ win over the Broncos?
This poll is closed
Cousins to Diggs
Roc Thomas’ second TD
Denver’s punt return
Carlson’s 57 yarder
Other (comment below)