On paper, this looked like a game that the Minnesota Vikings should have been able to handle, facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first game of the post-Tom Brady era in Tampa at U.S. Bank Stadium. However. . .these are the Vikings we’re talking about.
Thanks in large part to three first-half turnovers, including a huge one at the goal line, the Vikings squandered an opportunity to get an opening weekend win as they fell to the Bucs, 20-17.
The Bucs got on the board first in this one, as they converted the Vikings’ second lost fumble of the first quarter into a 36-yard Chase McLaughlin field goal to take a 3-0 lead late in the first quarter. The Vikings finally got on the board early in the second quarter, as Kirk Cousins found rookie Jordan Addison for a 39-yard touchdown, giving the rookie the first scoring catch of his career. The extra point from Greg Joseph gave the Vikings a 7-3 lead.
On the next Minnesota drive (following another Tampa three-and-out), the Vikings added to their lead on a 25-yard field goal from Greg Joseph to make it a 10-3 margin. After an exchange of punts, the Bucs found some offense just after the two-minute warning, as Baker Mayfield found Mike Evans for a 28-yard touchdown to tie the game at 10-10 with just over a minute left in the half.
It appeared that the Vikings would take the lead back before halftime, but Kirk Cousins' pass near the goal line appeared to be caught by K.J. Osborn, only for Osborn to have it taken away by Bucs rookie defensive back Christian Izien for the Vikings’ third turnover of the first half, sending it into the locker room tied.
Tampa took the lead back on their first possession of the second half on a long drive that took up more than half of the first-quarter clock. A field goal attempt that split the uprights was taken off the board because of an offside penalty on the Vikings, and the Buccaneers took advantage of the miscue as Mayfield found rookie Trey Palmer for a 7-yard score to make the lead seven rather than three at 17-10.
Minnesota answered on their next drive with a long possession of their own, and caught a break when the Buccaneers were called for pass interference down at the goal line to give them a first-and-goal from the 1. Two plays later, Alexander Mattison took a swing pass from Kirk Cousins and bullied his way into the end zone from four yards out to make it a tie game again, 17-17.
After another exchange of punts, the Bucs took the lead back again as McLaughlin drilled a 57-yard field goal to make it 20-17 with just over five minutes left in the contest. That proved to be the difference, as the Vikings went three-and-out on what proved to be their final offensive possession and the Bucs ran out the clock the rest of the way.
The three turnovers in the first half for the Vikings, particularly one right at the goal line before the half, were simply too much for the Vikings to overcome. Now, they’re facing a short week and a trip to play the defending NFC Champions, the Philadelphia Eagles, on Thursday Night Football in just a few days.
The Minnesota Vikings start the 2023 NFL season with an 0-1 mark, as they fall at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a score of 20-17. Thank you to everybody that got their coverage of this week’s game right here at The Daily Norseman!