The Minnesota Vikings won the All-Important Third Preseason Game® by narrowly dispatching the Seattle Seahawks 21-20 on Friday night. Kirk Cousins threw for 182 yards in one half of action, Dalvin Cook played for the first time in over ten months, and the defense had plenty of impressive performances throughout the night. All is well heading into the 2018 regular season! We’ll see you in February in Atlanta!
Sorry, forgot to use my sarcasm font there. While there were plenty of bright spots to celebrate for the Vikings, there are still major concerns looming less than two weeks before the season opener against the 49ers. The piecemeal offensive line is still struggling to find the best five-man combination, including trading with the New York Giants for Brett Jones on Sunday. The kicking game is already conjuring up the specters of Gary Anderson and Blair Walsh. The punt coverage team can’t stop allowing huge returns (even if some of them get called back). Valhalla is not Utopia just yet.
Let’s go through some of the ups and downs from Friday night with our weekly review of the five most impactful plays of the game.
Play 1: Vikings ball, 1st & 10 at the Seattle 37. First quarter, 1:43 remaining. (Shotgun) K.Cousins pass deep right to S.Diggs pushed ob at SEA 10 for 27 yards (SL.Griffin).
On the previous drive, Cousins threw to Stefon Diggs deep down the right side as he was being covered by Shaquill Griffin. The ball was a bit under-thrown, Griffin was in excellent defensive position, and the ball fell incomplete. The Vikings were forced to settle for a field goal attempt. (More on that “attempt” stuff later.) This time around, the ball was placed behind Diggs on purpose as a back shoulder throw down the right sideline. What Diggs did to Griffin on this play is almost unfair.
In case you weren’t sufficiently impressed the first time around, look at the isolated replay:
That is just filthy. Diggs certainly appears to be Cousins’ favorite target since the quarterback arrived in Minnesota. If things break right, these two could have a special season together.
Play 2: Seahawks ball, 1st & 10 at the Minnesota 23. Second quarter, 9:06 remaining. (9:06) M.Davis left end to MIN 26 for -3 yards (D.Hunter).
Speaking of someone that may be poised to have a special season, I present Danielle Hunter.
Duane Brown might be the only redeemable member of the Seahawks offensive line. Hunter simply discarded him and coasted to an easy tackle for loss. The 23-year-old defensive end has been making splash plays throughout the preseason. If Hunter can keep blowing up plays in the backfield like this, that new contract of his is going to look like larceny in a couple years.
Play 3a: Vikings ball, 2nd & 7 at the Minnesota 46. Second quarter, 1:02 remaining. (Shotgun) K.Cousins pass incomplete deep right to A.Thielen.
Play 3b: Vikings ball, 3rd & 7 at the Minnesota 46. Second quarter, 0:57 remaining. (Shotgun) K.Cousins pass short right to L.Treadwell ran ob at SEA 27 for 27 yards (M.Alexander).
I’m cheating a bit with this one by showing two back-to-back plays that help illustrate the up-and-down nature of Friday’s game. First, Cousins badly misses Adam Thielen during the two-minute drill.
Thielen caught his first four passes of the preseason for 26 yards on Friday, but this missed opportunity was indicative of how Thielen and Cousins don’t seem to be completely simpatico yet. (You can throw Kyle Rudolph into that mix as well.) It also illustrates how the Vikings offense has had its struggles in these situations throughout camp.
The next play was much more encouraging.
Laquon Treadwell had three catches for 44 yards to compliment his breakout performance at Training Camp. This might sound blasphemous, but it appears that Cousins currently has a better rapport with Treadwell than Thielen or Rudolph. Does that mean Treadwell will end up with better numbers than the other two? I seriously doubt it. But Cousins does have a propensity to spread the ball around and Treadwell has been stepping up when called upon this year. Perhaps the former first round pick will finally start living up to some of the expectations.
Play 4: Vikings ball, 4th & 7 at the Seattle 24. Second quarter, 0:31 remaining. D.Carlson 42 yard field goal is No Good, Wide Left, Center-K.McDermott, Holder-R.Quigley.
Daniel Carlson handled his first game as the only kicker on the Vikings roster about as well as Kevin Malone handled bringing in his famous chili in The Office.
After pulling his first field goal attempt from 42 yards wide left earlier in the game, Carlson put on an encore performance right before halftime. This is NOT how to ingratiate yourself to a fan base that has endured enough soul-crushing missed kicks for 100 lifetimes. Please, Daniel, don’t do this to us when the games actually count.
Play 5: Vikings ball, 4th & 15 at the Seattle 25. Fourth quarter, 0:54 remaining. (Shotgun) K.Sloter pass deep left to C.Beebe for 25 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
As if we could finish with any play other than this one.
Sure, it didn’t really mean anything. But scoring the game-winning touchdown (thanks to the ensuing 2-point conversion by Jake Wieneke) on 4th & long in the final minute of an NFL football game is awesome no matter what the stakes are. Kyle Sloter is still behind Trevor Siemian on the quarterback depth chart according to Mike Zimmer. There was no doubt that Sloter was the better quarterback on Friday. Moments after getting walloped by Erik Walden the play before, Sloter bought time with his legs and found Chad Beebe for a finish that was about as exciting as you can get in the preseason.
Beebe has had an amazing preseason as well. With players like Kendall Wright, Cayleb Jones, Tavarres King, and Brandon Zylstra being largely anonymous for most of the past few weeks, Beebe just might have a chance to sneak onto the roster.
So which play was the biggest of the game in your mind? Vote in the poll below and add any suggestions that we didn’t cover today in the comments.
What was the most important play of the Vikings’ win over the Seahawks?
This poll is closed
Cousins’ back shoulder throw to Diggs
Hunter’s big stop
Cousins missing Thielen
Cousins to Treadwell
Carlson misses again
Sloter to Beebe TD
Other (comment below)