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If ever there was a time to see what is trending on the Minnesota Vikings, it is during a preseason game. The fortunes of players rise and fall quicker than center Garrett Bradbury gets the butt sweats. So, tonight we resume our traditional game wrap up format of Trending, Worth Defending and Should Be Ending for the Vikings game versus the Seattle Seahawks at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Vikings won the game by a score of 25-19, but the final score that mattered (the score when the starters were done) was 3-3. The game of the first team was kind of a draw. Bend but don’t break defenses that was somewhat underwhelming. But it’s the preseason, so there you go.
The highlights include tight end Irv Smith, Jr.’s first touchdown as a pro—although it came on a busted coverage that left him wide open in the endzone; some decent punting and kicking by the new leg in town, Kaare Vedvik; and some nice grabs by Spicer’s own Brandon Zylstra (five catches for 37 yards and the Vikings’ second touchdown).
The (lowlights) included a long defensive penalty on cornerback Holton Hill, and also the hit on a Seattle quarterback that got him ejected (but he will be able to think about those plays for the first eight games this season); a pick-six by the Hawks defense on a ball thrown by backup Sean Mannion; a delay of game penalty on the Vikings offense when they were perched on the Seattle four-yard line.
But the beat goes on next week as the Vikings host Larry Fitzgerald and the Arizona Cardinals next Saturday night. Be (t)here or be square.
All eyes are always on the QBs (there was even a helmet cam on one) and Kirk Cousins played for one quarter and two drives tonight. His performance was slightly uneven with one bad throw to a wide-open running back, but generally a decent night (six for eight for 68 yards and a 100.0 rating). Since all the talk was about him trying to take advantage of running opportunities, the best we can say is there weren’t any (he had one rush for no yards). Cousins led the first team offense on one scoring drive (a field goal) and it wasn’t quite as sharp as last week. But we shouldn’t be concerned about anything we saw either. So far, he looks like the same KC from last season—for good or bad.
Adam Thielen made the first quarter worth watching. It’s preseason, so the stats are relatively meaningless (three catches for 45 yards), but it’s the execution that matters. Cousins and Thielen made a great pitch and catch, with Thielen making another highlight reel over-the-shoulder catch near the sideline. Thielen then streaked downfield and might have had another long reception but for the pass interference on the defense. It lead to the first score of the game (a 24-yard Dan Bailey field goal) and bodes well for him having another good season. He looks very sharp. He might have been saying just that to Pete Carroll, who challenged one of his grabs (unsuccessfully)—all in good fun.
Brandon Zylstra as making the team once again as a backup receiver and decent special team. He had a night—see above.
Alexander Mattison looked good with a big run left on a broken play right. He finished the night (there wasn’t any Dalvin Cook in sight) with 10 rushes for 41 yards, but his better play occurred against the second team than the first. Third teamer Mike Boone had a nice catch and run late in the first half, setting up the Irv Smith touchdown. Presuming that Cook is healthy (which he is), the Vikings running game should be in good shape this season.
The defense, however, may be another story. Despite some good plays by Harrison Smith, a couple splashes by Jayron Kearse and a first team that only gave up a field goal, the defense still isn’t where head coach Mike Zimmer would like them to be. It’s still the preseason, and all the starters aren’t on the field yet (e.g. Linval Joseph), but they need to step it up quick.
The offensive line didn’t have their best night of the season (which, of course, is only three drives old). Pat Elflein didn’t have a great night. There was a fumbled snap between Cousins and rookie center Garrett Bradbury and the holes weren’t there for the running game in the early going. The pass protection was decent, however, as Cousins wasn’t sacked (but there was a close call). Time to tighten things up.
Should be Ending
Quarterback Sean Mannion needs a new number. It was weird seeing that differently shaped No. 4 out there (especially on the anniversary of the other No. 4 coming here. (Just kidding. Who cares? No. 4 was retired down the road, not here.)
Big, full team TD celebrations. They are bad anytime and the worst in preseason. As Kirby O’Connor said in our game chat: “Preseason, spike it and dance with your defense, then get off the field.”
Sunday night preseason games. Whose idea was that, anyway.