The Minnesota Vikings’ fourth preseason game was just that, a fourth preseason game. It is a game where the starters are held out and the backups and bubble players get their final chance to prove to the coaching staff, or the coaching staff of another team, that they deserve a spot on the 53-man roster.
It’s a game that is often filled with lackluster play, mental mistakes and multiple penalties.
The Vikings had a rough start to the game, beginning on defense, and allowing the Los Angeles Rams to drive 62 yards downfield for a touchdown. A drive that included two short passes that turned into 22- and 30-yard gains.
Head coach Mike Zimmer talked about how his team, especially his defense, just seemed to be out of sorts at the start of the game. He seemed rather surprised by it as it’s not something he typically sees from his players.
“We were like that a little bit defensively on that first drive anyway. Like, ‘What are these guys doing?’ It shocked me,” he said after the game.
The game slogged along for both teams after the touchdown, with eight punts and seven penalties occurring before the next score.
It wasn’t until late in the second quarter that the Vikings really got things going. There were four minutes and 10 seconds left in the first half and the Vikings were set to punt the ball. Jeff Locke was lined up on his own 45-yard line and booted the ball 35 yards to the Rams 20-yard line. The Rams muffed the punt, and Vikings rookie safety Jayron Kearse was able to recover it.
The offense wasn’t able to do much with the good field position, though, as they went three-and-out and had to settle for a field goal, but that turnover appeared to be the boost the team needed.
The Vikings defense was able to strip Rams No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff with 1:55 left in the first half, and Vikings seventh-round pick Stephen Weatherly was able to recover it. The Vikings had the ball at the Rams 9-yard line and were in a perfect position to do some real damage, but an offensive pass interference call killed all hopes of that.
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They were forced to kick a field goal once again and cut the Rams’ lead to just one point.
Luckily for the Vikings, though, the defense wasn’t done making plays. It was able to create another turnover on the first play following a 42-yard kickoff return. Defensive end Justin Trattou tipped Goff’s pass straight into the air and defensive tackle Toby Johnson came up with a diving interception.
The Vikings offense took the field at the Rams’ 28-yard line and would finally capitalize on the good field position. Quarterback Brad Sorensen hit running back Jhurell Pressley out of the backfield and the undrafted rookie free agent took the ball 28 yards for a touchdown. That score, and the point after attempt, gave the Vikings a 13-7 lead with 33 seconds remaining in the first half and they would hold onto that as they headed into the locker room.
The Vikings offense did not do much for the remainder of the game as the team’s final two scores came from a 106-yard kickoff return by Pressley and a 1-yard touchdown run by C.J. Ham that was set up by a second turnover by the punt-coverage team.
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Kearse was able to hit the returner right as the ball arrived, no fair catch was called, and force a fumble. Rookie tight end David Morgan fell on the ball at the Rams’ 6-yard line. The Vikings chipped away at the yardage until Ham just had to push the pile for a single yard for a touchdown.
Overall, the offense had a rather forgettable performance during the team’s final preseason game and it was the defense and special teams that carried the team.