The Vikings lost a preseason game for just the second time in 15 tries under head coach Mike Zimmer, falling to the Seattle Seahawks by a score of 20-13 on Friday night at CenturyLink Field. Here are five takeaways from the game.
1. Offensive line took a step forward
The eyes of Vikings nation were on the offensive line Friday night. Head coach Mike Zimmer said earlier in the week he wanted the offense to generate a rhythm in this week's game and the play of the offensive line was under a microscope because of that. Even without both starters on the left side – tackle Riley Reiff and guard Alex Boone – the line responded. Quarterback Sam Bradford was not sacked on 11 passing attempts, running back Dalvin Cook averaged 5.7 yards per carry and there was only one negative yardage scrimmage play in 20 snaps.
2. Red zone penalties too much for first team to overcome
A promising first drive for the Vikings offense was stalled because of two red zone penalties. Bradford opened the game with a 12-yard completion to Michael Floyd and then hit Stefon Diggs for 10 more yards two plays later followed by a five-yard laser to Diggs again on 3rd and 3 a few plays after that to extend the drive. On the next snap, Bradford stepped up into a perfectly-formed pocket to find Diggs again for 39 yards to get to the Seattle 12. But that's where penalties spoiled the party. Tight end Kyle Rudolph jumped offsides and two plays later the Vikings were called for a delay of game, which put the offense behind the chains and foiled an 11-play, 86-yard drive that included four 1st downs. Cleaning up those critical miscues is the difference between the Vikings settling for three points and punching it into the end zone for six points plus the chance for a point after touchdown (PAT).
3. Rookies impress
The learning curve is steep in the NFL, but don't tell the Vikings rookie class that. Tashawn Bower, Cook, Bucky Hodges and Jaleel Johnson all impressed on Friday night. Bower had another sack, his second in as many games, and a tackle for loss (TFL) to boot. He was disruptive on multiple snaps and forced quarterbacks to leave the pocket. Johnson did the same, constantly penetrating the offensive backfield to garner two TFLs and finish second on the team with five stops. Cook broke off a long run of 15 yards and then had a nine-yard burst on the next play to help put together a seven-carry, 40-yard performance. And Hodges caught two passes for 54 yards, including a 21-yard strike from Taylor Heinicke that resulted in a touchdown. It will be interesting to see if Zimmer's film review will reveal any other impressive rookie performances, particularly Ben Gedeon, who played with the starters at outside linebacker, and Pat Elflein, who started at center.
4. Zimmer not pleased with defenses performance
Russell Wilson threw for 206 yards and two touchdowns, backup running backs Chris Carson, Alex Collins and Mike Davis ran for 122 yards on 22 combined carries and Seattle was six of eight (75%) on 3rd downs in the first half. Although defense is the Vikings calling card and there isn't cause for concern, the results from Friday's game will give coach Zimmer plenty of teaching points for the next week-plus of practices before the team takes the field for preseason game No. 3.
View game action images as the Vikings take on the Seattle Seahawks in preseason game number 2 on Friday night.
5. More positives from the kicking game
The Vikings saw good results from the kicking/punting game last week in Buffalo and the same can be said for Friday night's game in Seattle. Both Kai Forbath and Marshall Kohen made field goals and the team converted its lone PAT, plus both punts – Ryan Quigley and Taylor Symmank – had bright moments, too. Punting from inside Seahawks territory, Quigley dropped a 46-yard punt on the Seattle 3 midway through the 3rd quarter. Symmank boomed one of his punts 54 yards to the Seattle 15 to help flip the field in the 4th quarter and he had a 49-yard punt that put Seattle on its own 35 after the second-team offense couldn't dig out of the shadow of its own goal post and stalled at the 11. In total, Seattle had no yards on three punt returns and Vikings kickers accounted for seven points and limited Seattle returners to 33 yards on two kickoff returns