The Vikings closed the 2021 preseason with a 28-25 loss to the Chiefs in Kansas City on Friday night at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Vikings chose not to play four Pro Bowlers on defense: DE Danielle Hunter, LB Eric Kendricks, CB Patrick Peterson and S Harrison Smith. Minnesota also remained without four-time Pro Bowl LB Anthony Barr because of an undisclosed injury.
The Chiefs, however, opened with Patrick Mahomes at quarterback, and he immediately found TE Travis Kelce for a gain of 28 and followed with a 35-yard touchdown to Tyreek Hill.
Mahomes looked razor sharp during two series for the Chiefs. He was 8-of-9 passing for 117 yards with two touchdowns to reach an NFL-maximum passer rating of 158.3 against the blend of first-teamers and reserves.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins wasn't as well-stocked for his three series, but he did make a pair of nice throws to TE Irv Smith, Jr., on a night when Minnesota's offense hit the field without Pro Bowlers Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson.
The absence of the trio that accounted for 38 total touchdowns in 2020 showed at the end of the Vikings first possession in a goal-to-go situation (details below). The drive ended with a 26-yard field goal by Greg Joseph.
Cousins was sacked on a blitz by Anthony Hitchens to open his second series, which ended in a quick three-and-punt. The third series ended when a scramble attempt on a third-and-5 gained 2.
Cousins finished the game 5-of-7 passing for 57 yards and a 95.5 passer rating. He was replaced by Jake Browning for the remainder of the first half. Browning finished 2-of-8 passing for 41 yards and a passer rating of 48.4.
Kellen Mond played the entire second half for Minnesota. He was 16-of-23 passing for 196 yards and was intercepted once for a passer rating of 77.4. Mond led two touchdown drives that ended with scores by A.J. Rose, Jr., of 32 yards and 1 yard. Rose rushed six times and led the Vikings with 41 yards on the ground.
K.J. Osborn led Minnesota with 68 receiving yards, and Ihmir Smith-Marsette added 43 on three catches.
The Vikings were 2-for-14 on third downs but managed to possess the ball for 32:20.
View action photos from the Vikings-Chiefs preseason game at Arrowhead Stadium.
Q1, 12:22 remaining
Chiefs 7, Vikings 0
Tyreek Hill catches a 35-yard pass from Patrick Mahomes (Harrison Butker kicks PAT) [5 plays, 79 yards, 2:38 time of possession]
Big plays quickly: The Chiefs showcased their high-octane offense with gains of 28 on a brilliant sidearm pass from Mahomes to tight end Travis Kelce. Mahomes made wizardry look easy on that one, two plays before lofting one down the right sideline to Hill, who sped past single coverage by Bashaud Breeland.
Q1, 7:55 remaining
Chiefs 7, Vikings 3
Greg Joseph kicks a 26-yard field goal [10 plays, 67 yards, 4:27 time of possession]
Swervin' Irv: The Vikings moved the ball effectively on their opening drive with catches of 23 and 16 yards by Irv Smith, Jr., that bookended runs of 9 by Ameer Abdullah and 8 by Ihmir Smith-Marsette, but the possession stalled at the 9. After Abdullah rushed for a gain of 1, the Vikings lined up with C.J. Ham at tailback and Jake Bargas at fullback. Both ran routes in the middle of the field, and Cousins' pass to Bargas was incomplete. The Vikings appeared to be running out of time on the play clock before their play on third down but got the snap off in time for an incompletion to Chad Beebe.
Q1, 3:06 remaining
Chiefs 14, Vikings 3
Blake Bell catches a 5-yard pass from Mahomes (Butker kicks PAT) [10 plays, 75 yards, 4:49 time of possession]
Six completions to five Chiefs (including two former Vikings): Mahomes connected with five different players, including a pass to former Viking Jerick McKinnon (2014-17) on his first throw of the drive and the score to Bell, who played for Minnesota in 2017.
Q2, 0:26 remaining
Chiefs 21, Vikings 3
Marcus Kemp catches a 23-yard pass from Shane Buechele (Butker kicks PAT) [12 plays, 88 yards, 1:37 time of possession]
Down the center: Kemp split coverage by safeties Myles Dorn and Camryn Bynum for the score down the middle. Kansas City managed to pick up two second-and-15s on the way to the score. The first was with a 23-yard pass to TE Noah Gray. The second was with a 15-yard pass to WR Daurice Fountain.
Q3, 9:23 remaining
Chiefs 21, Vikings 10
A.J. Rose, Jr., rushes for 32 yards (Joseph kicks PAT) [7 plays, 69 yards, 3:34 time of possession]
Chunk plays: The drive included a 17-yard catch by K.J. Osborn on a second-and-9 and an 14-yard gain on a tuck-and-run by Kellen Mond to pick up a fourth-and-5. Rose followed that conversion by finding significant room and picking up blocks by receiver Whop Philyor and center Mason Cole on the way to the end zone.
Q3, 8:05 remaining
Chiefs 28, Vikings 10
Derrick Gore catches 56-yard pass from Buechele (Butker kicks PAT) [3 plays, 75 yards, 1:18 time of possession]
Racking up YAC: Gore ran 59 yards after the catch, which he secured at the Kansas City 41-yard line after letting Dorn breeze by on a safety blitz. The play was well-timed by the Chiefs to catch the blitz, and Gore set up his blocks on the screen play.
Q4, 8:24 remaining
Chiefs 28, Vikings 18
Parry Nickerson returns an interception 10 yards (Mond conversion pass to Myron Mitchell)
Back-to-back: The Vikings defense that didn't have a return touchdown in 2020 has had two in as many weeks. The cornerback's pick on an overthrow was an encore of a 33-yard return by Troy Dye last week against the Colts. Dye left Friday's game with an injury.
Q4, 1:24 remaining
Chiefs 28, Vikings 25
Rose rushes for 1 yard (Joseph kicks PAT) [8 plays, 89 yards, 2:19 time of possession]
Positive gains: Mond recorded five consecutive completions and added a 14-yard scramble during the drive. Completions included gains of 26, 9 and 8 to Smith-Marsette.