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Vikings Vs. Buccaneers Game Observations: Mistakes Too Much in 20-17 Loss

MINNEAPOLIS — The Vikings made critical errors, and the Buccaneers capitalized in a 20-17 win by Tampa Bay on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Turnovers loomed the largest, with Minnesota coughing up the football on a snap at the Tampa Bay 26-yard line to end the second possession of the season, a drive with promise, without points.

Buccaneers safety Antoine Winfield, Jr., then forced a fumble during a sack of Kirk Cousins and recovered the football at the Minnesota 18.

Tampa Bay was able to score the first points of the game on a 36-yard field goal by Chase McLaughlin.

Cousins also was picked off at the Tampa Bay 2-yard line with 16 seconds remaining in the first half to keep the score tied at 10.

The interception prevented an answer by Minnesota to a tying 28-yard touchdown catch by Mike Evans from Baker Mayfield.

That drive, a seven-play, 61-yarder was helped when Pat Jones II was flagged for a neutral zone infraction on third-and-7. The Buccaneers then picked up the third-and-2 with a 14-yard completion to Chris Godwin.

Tampa Bay's second touchdown drive of the game also was helped by a Vikings penalty.

After it appeared the Vikings had forced a field goal, Jay Ward was flagged for lining up offsides on the kick. The 5-yard penalty on fourth-and-2 gave Tampa Bay a fresh set of downs, and Mayfield connected with Trey Palmer for a 7-yard touchdown three snaps later.

Tampa Bay took the lead for good with 5:10 remaining in the game when McLaughlin punched a 57-yard field goal through the uprights.

1. Passing game includes Addison TD

The Vikings put up plenty of passing yards, with Kirk Cousins completing 33 of 44 passes for 344 yards. He had two touchdowns and the pick, finishing with a passer rating of 102.8.

Justin Jefferson led the way with 150 yards on nine catches (12 targets).

Rookie Jordan Addison followed with four catches for 61 yards, highlighted by a 39-yard touchdown for Minnesota as the Vikings converted a third-and-11.

On what became Minnesota's final possession, a tight end screen to T.J. Hockenson lost 4 yards on a tackle by Lavonte David, who dodged a block attempt by Ezra Cleveland. A pass to Jefferson gained 6 to set up a third down, but Carlton Davis III tipped the ball away from Addison.

View game action photos from he Vikings vs. Buccaneers Week 1 home opener at U.S. Bank Stadium

2. Running game struggles to find stride

Alexander Mattison made his first start since the Vikings moved on from Dalvin Cook and found tough sledding.

Mattison gave extra effort on multiple carries but finished with 34 yards on 11 rush attempts.

He did make a mark in the passing game with a 4-yard touchdown reception on which he powered through contact by three defenders.

All in all, Minnesota finished with 41 rushing yards on 17 carries, and those totals included a net of 7 on three runs by Cousins.

3. Defense makes it tougher, but can't get final stop

The Vikings defense made its debut under new Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores and used multiple combinations of players to perplex Mayfield.

Tampa Bay totaled just 242 yards but possessed the football for 30:39 after only having it for 10:35 of the first half.

The Bucs ran 33 times, totaling 73 yards on the ground but were able to stay in better down-and-distance in the second half.

View pregame photos of the Vikings ahead of their Week 1 game vs. the Buccaneers at U.S. Bank Stadium

4. Injuries on the o-line

Vikings center Garrett Bradbury left the game early with a back injury. He was listed as questionable during the first half but downgraded to out at halftime.

Bradbury left the game early in the first quarter on Minnesota's second possession of the season. He was replaced by Austin Schlottmann.

Left tackle Christian Darrisaw left the game late in the second quarter with an ankle injury. Olisaemeka Udoh replaced Darrisaw on a possession that began with 1:09 remaining in the first half.

Darrisaw returned to start the second half and played the remainder of the game.