The Vikings took control of the possession game with their first drive, a 12-play behemoth that gave them a lead they never came close to surrendering. See the ball-control dominance that was the preseason finale.
The Vikings closed out the preseason with a flourish Thursday night with a dominating 19-3 win over the Tennessee Titans
. The game wasn’t as close to the final score because the performance was lopsided thanks to the Vikings offense being able to sustain drives – scoring on each of their first five full drives through the first three quarters.
The Vikings started with the ball to open the game and put together a 12-play drive that covered 80 yards and 6:04 in clock time, ending with a touchdown pass from Teddy Bridgewater
to Adam Thielen
for a 7-0 lead.
The second Vikings drive started with 5:15 to play in the first quarter and didn’t end until the second quarter, as the Vikings profiled running back Joe Banyard
on a 15-play drive that ate 6:41 off the clock, ending with a 45-yard Blair Walsh
field goal to give the Vikings a 10-0 lead.
With Bridgewater done for the night, Christian Ponder
took over and orchestrated a nine-play drive that took the Vikings from their own 36-yard to the Tennessee 4-yard line, ending a 22-yard field goal to give the Vikings a 13-0 lead.
After taking a knee on the only play of their fourth drive to end the first half, Ponder and the offense came out in the third quarter with their first series starting from their own 20-yard line. With Dominique Williams
now the featured running back, he helped lead the Vikings on a 14-play drive that ate up 8:17 of the third quarter and ended with a 30-yard Walsh field goal to give the Vikings a 19-0 lead.
With all of the starters for both teams sitting out, the battle of the backups was dominated by the Vikings and gives the team a lot of momentum heading into the regular season, not only winning their last two games, but dominating them.
GAME NIGHT NOTES
After playing their first road preseason game in 98-degree heat and humidity in Kansas City, a downpour that hit shortly before the start of Thursday’s game left everyone soaked on the sidelines as it rained on and off the remainder of the game.
Anthony Barr and Phil Loadholt didn’t make the trip to Tennessee with ankle injuries.
The team didn’t come out completely unscathed in the preseason finale. Adam Thielen suffered a hip injury that took him out in the second quarter, Zach Line left in the third quarter with an ankle injury and Antone Exum left in the fourth quarter with an apparent shoulder injury but could have returned, according to Zimmer. Justin Trattou also suffered a shoulder injury.
Getting his most use of the preseason, Ponder completed 12 of 15 passes for 121 yards.
Banyard had a monster first half, rushing 18 times for 111 yards to lead the Vikings.
The Vikings dominated almost every aspect of Thursday’s game. They held a 22-13 advantage in first downs, outgained the Titans 336-270 and ran 67 plays to just 47 for Tennessee.
The Vikings converted 7 of 15 third-down attempts (46 percent), while allowing the Titans to convert on just 3 of 9 (33 percent).
The Vikings ran for 206 yards, rushing a whopping 41 times. Tennessee had more yards per carry, but rushed just 22 times – gaining 125 yards.
Over the last two weeks, Walsh has made seven field goals.
The biggest area of concern was with penalties, although many of them committed by players on the roster fringe. The Vikings committed eight penalties for 60 yards. The Titans had six penalties for 55 yards.
The two teams combined to be just 1-for-6 scoring touchdowns in the red zone. The Vikings were 1 of 4 and Tennessee didn’t get in the end zone in either of its two trips.
The Vikings finished with a dominating time of possession edge – 37:08 to 22:52 – but it was far worse for much of the game. The Vikings had the ball for 11:11 of the first quarter, 20:15 of the first half and 30:57 through the first three quarters.
Due to the rainy conditions, Bridgewater didn’t wear his trademark gloves. At training camp, the Vikings had an outdoor practice in which a rain shower came out of nowhere and dumped on the players. Bridgewater struggled initially wearing the gloves and took them off during that practice. Feeling he might have the ball slip, he played without the glove on his passing hand Thursday.
The Vikings absolutely dominated the first quarter, holding the ball for more than 11 minutes, thanks to 11 runs by Banyard for 69 yards.
Corey Wooton may have had the play of the preseason in what was ruled a fumble by Tennessee rookie Zach Mettenberger. With four minutes to play in the first half, Mettenberger dropped to pass and, as he cocked his arm to throw, Wootton literally plucked the ball out of his hands. Apparently, because his arm was moving backward and the ball never hit the ground, it was ruled a sack and fumble recovery rather than an interception.
It didn’t seem to matter who was on the field, the Vikings defense was equal opportunity in the first half and second half. The Vikings allowed 270 yards to Tennessee – 135 in the first half and 135 in the second half.
Tennessee third-string QB Dominique Davis got off to an inauspicious start. His first pass attempt was intercepted by Julian Posey.
The Vikings didn’t punt until the first play of the fourth quarter.
The players on the bubble will now play the waiting game. Teams have until 3 p.m. CDT Saturday to cut their rosters from 75 down to 53 players. When the first cuts came, the Vikings made their announcement early.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.