Vikings Turn to Form Season Plan for Specialists

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The Vikings executed a plan for their specialists in the team’s preseason finale on Thursday in Buffalo, a 27-23 victory by the Bills thanks to a late rally.

Now, they’ve got to determine how they’ll proceed for the regular season by Saturday’s mandatory roster reduction from 90 to 53 players.

“We’re going to evaluate everything these next two days and make our decisions and go with them,” Head Coach Mike Zimmer said.

Matt Wile handled the first punt of the night and properly landed a 33-yarder that was downed at the 8-yard line by Devante Downs. The boot put Minnesota’s defense in good position to force a three-and-punt, and the Vikings got the ball back at the Buffalo 47.

Kyle Sloter and the offense took advantage of the good field position and went the reduced distance in eight plays for a 7-0 lead.

Wile also handled holds on all field goals and extra points.

Chad Beebe, who has held some in preseason and training camp, did not play on a night when Minnesota rested its offensive and defensive starters and then some.

Kaare Vedvik, who was acquired via a trade with Baltimore after Minnesota’s first preseason game, handled kickoffs throughout the game, field goal and extra point attempts in the first half and punting in the second half.

Each of Vedvik’s six kickoffs reached the end zone, and all six resulted in touchbacks. Four of the six went through the back of the end zone, one bounced out of the sideline after landing a yard deep and one was fielded by Marcus Murphy 2 yards deep. Murphy took a knee.

View images as the Vikings take on the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo on Thursday night.

Vedvik was 1-for-2 on field goals, missing from 37 and making from 27. He made his only extra point attempt.

“I don’t know if I’m disappointed in it,” Zimmer said when asked about Vedvik’s performance. “I know that he hit one. He’s a talented kid, and then [Dan] Bailey came in and kicked well. We’ll just have to evaluate and see.”

Vedvik, a Norway native, punted twice with boots of 41 and 45 yards, but the 45-yarder was returned 79 yards for a touchdown by Murphy, the second of three touchdowns scored by the Bills in the final 3:53.

“I don’t think he out-kicked the coverage,” Zimmer said. “I just think some guys had some wrong leverage.”

Bailey, a veteran who joined the Vikings in Week 3 of the 2018 season, handled field goals and extra point attempts in the second half.

He was true from 54 yards in the third quarter and 43 in the fourth quarter.

“Yeah, it was nice. Dan’s a big-time pro,” Zimmer said. “He treats everything professionally, I thought the ball jumped off his foot, and I thought he did well.”

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