Talk about making a strong first impression.
A day after football fans witnessed an uplifting preseason performance by former Viking Teddy Bridgewater, the new Minnesota quarterback quickly answered the call with an impressive outing of his own.
Kirk Cousins, whom the Vikings signed to a three-year, $84 million contract this offseason, completed 4-of-4 passes for 42 yards and a touchdown in his Vikings debut. He played one series and earned a passer rating of 150.0.
“I thought he played really well,” said head coach Mike Zimmer. “Accurate, and he made some good throws.”
Cousins connected with Stefon Diggs on a short, six-yard pass to start the drive. Following a penalty, two long runs gave the offense a first down in good field position. Then, the Vikings executed a run-pass option which resulted in a 7-yard gain. With the line run-blocking, Cousins read the defense and decided to hit C.J. Ham in the flat with a quick pass.
On the next play, Cousins faked a handoff then looked downfield and threw a strike to Diggs on the right sideline with a perfectly placed 28-yard pass. Two plays later, Cousins again found Diggs on a 1-yard slant for his first touchdown pass as a Minnesota Viking.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) August 12, 2018
The debut was perfect. But the credit can’t all go to #8.
Zimmer also praised the performance of the offensive line. The starting five included Riley Reiff, Tom Compton, Cornelius Edison, Danny Isidora and Rashod Hill. On the Vikings’ second offensive play Edison was flagged for holding, but after the penalty the first-team offense had no issues moving the ball.
Latavius Murray took advantage of large running lanes on the right side of the line and busted off consecutive 21-yard carries. Murray, who played only one series, finished the night with 43 rushing yards on 4 attempts. Mike Boone received reps with the second-team offense but was unable to find much running room. On 12 carries Boone racked up 22 yards, an average of 1.8 YPC.
In fact, the running back who did the most to help his stock was undrafted free agent Roc Thomas. He stole the show Saturday night. First, Trevor Siemian hit Thomas out of the backfield for a wide open 16-yard touchdown. Later, Siemian hit Thomas on a screen pass for a 78-yard touchdown.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) August 12, 2018
Thomas finished the game with 29 rushing yards on 8 carries (3.6 YPC) and 102 receiving yards with two touchdowns on three receptions. Not a bad debut for the 22 year-old.
Siemian, the Vikings backup quarterback, had an up-and-down performance but there were more positives than negatives. He hit Stacy Coley on a nice back-shoulder fade route but also threw behind a couple crossing routes, one of which bounced off the hands of Tyler Conklin and into the hands of a Broncos defender. Siemian completed 11 of 17 passes (64.7%) for 165 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception.
The Vikings first-team defense was stout. The unit certainly looked the part of the best defense in the NFL as Case Keenum was held to five passing yards and the Broncos first-team offense had two straight three-and-outs.
- Defensive end Tashawn Bower had a standout game. He had a sack and batted down a pass near the line of scrimmage to force a Denver punt.
- Anthony Harris intercepted a 1st quarter pass thrown by Paxton Lynch after it was tipped into the air by Eric Wilson.
- In an interesting move, Kai Forbath handled the opening kickoff for Minnesota. He did not attempt a field goal.
- Kicker Daniel Carlson drilled all 6 of his attempts including a 57-yard field goal in the third quarter, a 39-yarder and 4 extra points.
- Mike Hughes nearly intercepted a pass in the end zone. During the game, Xavier Rhodes was asked about his thoughts on Hughes so far:
Xavier Rhodes on rookie CB Mike Hughes: “Down the road he could be one of the best in the league.”#Vikings
— Sean Borman (@SeanBoarMan) August 12, 2018
- Holton Hill played like… a rookie. The cornerback gave up a third down reception and then badly missed the tackle. It wasn’t all bad, though, as he made a nice play in run support later in the game.
- Safety Tray Matthews led the Vikings defense in tackles with 7.
- Cornerback Jack Tocho was torched for two touchdowns through the air. He later made up for it with the game-sealing interception, but for Tocho the damage may have already been done.
- Kyle Sloter (9/11, 69 yards w/1 TD) had a great game against his former team. He threw a beautiful touchdown pass to Chad Beebe for the go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter and proceeded to hit Jeff Badet on a slant to complete the 2-point conversion. On the next possession Sloter scrambled for a 14-yard rushing touchdown.
Kyle Sloter touchdown to Chad Beebe pic.twitter.com/eO7UR46qUz
— Arif Hasan (@ArifHasanNFL) August 12, 2018
- RB Mack Brown had his leg looked at by the trainers after limping off the field in the fourth quarter.
- There was also this:
Pretty sure kentrell brothers was just vomiting on the field
— Drew Mahowald (@DrewMahowald) August 12, 2018
That’s about the extent of the injury news for now. Be sure to visit VT for any updates. Let’s hope Brothers is able to find some medication in Denver before the team flight departs.
NEXT UP: The Vikings (1-0) take on the Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) at US Bank Stadium on Saturday, August 18th at noon (CST).