The Vikings moved to 3-0 this preseasaon with a 30-12 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday night. The win came via a complete team effort, with big plays being authored in all three phases of the game for the Vikings.
Here are five takeaways from the win over the Chiefs.
1. Defense put the pressure on
A screen pass to running back Knile Davis on the first play of the game netted the Chiefs 16 yards. From that point on, though, it was tough sledding against a stingy Vikings defense. The Vikings forced a punt three plays after that, setting up a 53-yard Cordarrelle Patterson touchdown, and then the Vikings defense forced a three-and-out on Kansas City’s next drive. Here is how the Chiefs seven first-half drives ended: punt, punt, interception, interception, field goal, downs. By halftime, the Chiefs were already 0-3 in red zone scoring attempts and quarterback Alex Smith had thrown two interceptions and had been sacked twice.
For the game, the Vikings tallied five sacks. Jasper Brinkley, Everson Griffen, Brian Robison and Justin Trattou each collected a .5 sack, and Tom Johnson, Shaun Prater and Corey Wootton each had 1.0 sack. Chiefs quarterbacks were hurried and flushed from the pocket several other times, as well. Kansas City didn’t get into the end zone until just :25 to go in the game, the Vikings defense got off the field 11 of 17 times on 3rd downs, and the Chiefs averaged just 4.2 yards per offensive play.
2. Vikings quarterbacks found the end zone
Matt Cassel started the game and drove the offense 97 yards in just five plays to take a 7-0 lead, with the scoring play coming on a 53-yard bomb to receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. On the play, Cassel used a play action fake to give Patterson time to sprint down the field, then the veteran quarterback stepped up into a perfectly-formed pocket and delivered a pass right to the waiting hands of No. 84. Patterson secured the pass and high-stepped into the end zone to avoid a tackle.
Teddy Bridgewater also found the end zone. He replaced Cassel in the 3rd quarter following an interception by the Vikings defense. The interception set the Vikings offense up at the Kansas City 8. On 3rd and goal from the 8, Bridgewater found Allen Reisner on a shallow crossing route for the score. The ensuing Chiefs possession ended in a punt, and Adam Thielen returned the punt 75 yards to the Chiefs 5. On the first play of the next drive, Bridgewater found Reisner once again, this time on a corner route in the end zone, giving the Vikings a 27-5 lead after the extra point.
It was an efficient day for the two Vikings quarterbacks, as they combined to average 8.0 yards per attempt and threw three touchdowns compared to just one interception.
3. Vikings keep winning the turnover battle
Entering Saturday’s game, the Vikings offense had yet to turn the ball over in the preseason. While the Vikings offense did lose a fumble early in the game, the Vikings defense responded by forcing three Chiefs turnovers – all interceptions. Captain Munnerlyn and Chad Greenway both grabbed red zone interceptions off of Smith in the first half, and Prater tallied an interception later in the game. Aside from final score, turnover margin is the most significant variable when it comes to determining the winner of a football game. The Vikings have a good trend going in turnover margin this preseason.
4. Speed kills – and the Vikings have plenty of it
Patterson’s 53-yard score. Thielen’s 75-yard return. Munnerlyn opening up and driving on a route. Greenway sliding into the alley to nab an interception. Pressure off the edge from Griffen and Robison. Anthony Barr with a tackle for loss in the early stages of the game. Jerick McKinnon impressing with 52 yards on just eight touches. The Vikings have speed, and it puts pressure on the opposition to move just as quickly. All of this, and none of the Vikings opponents have even seen Adrian Peterson yet.
5. Walsh is back on track
At ease everyone who began to worry about Walsh. A few missed kicks in the first couple games caused some consternation in the Vikings fan base. But Walsh got back on track in Kansas City, going three-of-three on field goal attempts from distances of 41, 32 and 28 yards. He was also blasting kickoffs through the end zone for touchbacks at will.