Vikings reserves shine in 25-19 win over Seahawks
MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - The Minnesota Vikings have talked about building a continuity and consistency on offense under the direction of Kevin Stefanski and Gary Kubiak throughout Training Camp. It remains a work in progress through two preseason games.
The Vikings couldn't have asked for a better start at New Orleans: Eight plays, 76 yards and a Kirk Cousins touchdown to Alexander Mattison.
Sunday night, the Vikings' first-team offense got the ball twice against Seattle in front of more than 63,000 fans at U.S. Bank Stadium, and left plenty to be desired for the Sept. 8 opener against the Atlanta Falcons. It was a night for Minnesota's reserves to shine. The second and third team offenses combined for 22 points in a 25-19 win over the Seahawks.
But it was a sequence of a few mistakes that will leave lingering questions about the first-team offense as they get ready for their most action of the preseason on Saturday.
After moving the ball past midfield on the opening drive, Kirk Cousins overthrew Mattison on a screen pass that had potential for a big gain. Cousins then mishandled a snap from Garrett Bradbury that resulted in a 4-yard loss and prompted "butt sweat" jokes on social media. The Vikings were eventually forced to punt.
Minnesota's second drive, Cousins' last of the night, resulted in a 24-yard field goal from Dan Bailey for the first points of the game. It started with a perfect 34-yard pass to Adam Thielen down the sideline, which Seattle challenged for offensive pass interference and lost. Cousins then had Thielen open deep down the middle on the next play, and the Seahawks were flagged for a 45-yard pass interference call.
The drive stalled after Kyle Rudolph was called for a 15-yard clipping penalty, which Mike Zimmer was hot at the officials for. Cousins finished his night 6-of-8 passing for 68 yards and a 100 passer rating. Last week, he was 4-of-4 passing for 65 yards and a touchdown, and a perfect 158.3 rating.
"I thought offensively we moved the ball well and unfortunately we got the penalty there inside the 10-yard line. But I thought we moved the ball well," Zimmer said.
Things got uglier before they got better Sunday night. A Sean Mannion pass intended for Chad Beebe was intercepted and returned 88 yards for a touchdown, giving the Seahawks a 10-3 lead in the second quarter. That came after Mannion tried to find Bisi Johnson in the end zone, Johnson was interfered with and there was no flag, and Zimmer didn't challenge it.
Zimmer called Mannion's interception "a miscommunication" after the game.
"He's had a good camp and had a good couple games. It was one bad play and it really was a miscommunication between Beebe and himself. We'll try to clear that up and make sure it doesn't ever happen again, but it was nice to see him continue to go back out there and play well," Zimmer said.
Mannion bounced back on the Vikings' next drive, with the help of a 45-yard completion to Mike Boone, who is making his case to win the No. 3 running back job after a touchdown run at New Orleans last week. Mannion connected with a wide open Irv Smith Jr. in the middle of the end zone for Smith's first unofficial touchdown and a 10-10 tie at the half. Mannion finished his night 11-of-14 for 88 yards.
The Vikings also struggled consistently to run the ball against Seattle's defense in the first half. Mattison finished with 10 carries for 41 yards, including a 22-yard gain against the second-team defense.
"It's a hard thing to do but it's something that we harp on, just you have to live to see another play. After something bad happens, after something good happens, there's a play after that. So just have that mentality," Mattison said.
New specialist Kaare Vedvik handled punting and kickoff duties in the first half, including a 54-yard punt. Vedvik also converted on an extra point after Kyle Sloter hit Brandon Zylstra for a 4-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
Sloter was 11-of-13 passing for 116 yards and a touchdown. Zylstra, competing for a wide receiver spot, caught all five of his targets from Sloter for 37 yards and a score.
"I think for the most part it was a smooth operation. Definitely things that I can fix and get better at. I known I've got to watch the play clock a little bit better, that's something that I can work on. But overall I was just really proud of the guys," Sloter said.
Khari Blasingame scored on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter, and Mike Boone added the final cushion, running in on a two-point conversion.
Holton Hill, suspended eight games to start the season due to two failed drug tests, was ejected from the game during the second half after a hit to the head on quarterback Paxton Lynch. He was running the option on the play.
"No. 1 we don't want to see anybody get hurt. No. 2, he can't drop his head. But when a quarterback is running an option, he ought to be fair game other than lowering your head and hitting him in the head," Zimmer said.
Jeff Badet handled kickoff returns with Ameer Abdullah not playing. Chad Beebe and Bisi Johnson handled punt returns. Dalvin Cook didn't play for the second straight game, and it's not known if he'll see any preseason action.
The Vikings held nine players out of Sunday's game due to injury or rest.