MINNEAPOLIS –The Vikings victory over the 49ers on Sunday Night Football was a collective youth effort.
Several rookies contributed to the 32-31 comeback win that ended with third-year pro Taylor Heinicke scrambling for a successful 2-point conversion. The play came after running back Terrell Newby scored a 1-yard touchdown as time expired.
Preseason or not, the atmosphere at U.S. Bank Stadium was electric when Heinicke sprinted and reached the ball across the goal line and inside the pylon.
"We were pretty resilient," Newby said. "Some things didn't go our way, but we just kept pounding, kept going. Taylor really stepped up and made some big plays in that drive.
"This was my first time playing in this type of stadium – I've never played inside of a dome before, so it was crazy," Newby added. "I just loved the whole atmosphere. To come through and rally at the end was real good."
Earlier in the 14-play, 63-yard drive, Newby caught a 5-yard pass from Heinicke to convert a third-and-3. He later made a block to protect Heinicke on a 49ers blitz, allowing the quarterback to connect with receiver Isaac Fruechte for 13 yards and a first down.
As the Vikings moved down the field, Newby said he "had a feeling" that the drive may end in a goal-line situation and possibly call for a run play.
"But I was ready for anything – me in the pass protection or getting a run," Newby said. "So I mean, we had a good push up front, and that's what all started it and allowed me to get in."
Minnesota's first of its four touchdowns was scored by fifth-round draft pick Rodney Adams with under two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Fifth-year pro Case Keenum dropped back and threw a sidearm screen pass to Adams, who caught it near the 12-yard line and was able to maneuver his way through traffic and into the end zone.
"[The offensive line gave] Case great blocks, and the receivers out there blocking for me allowed me to set up a score for a touchdown, and it all worked out," Adams said.
Adams finished the night with three catches for 35 yards, including a 20-yard play on third-and-10 that kept the Vikings drive alive for a touchdown pass to Kyle Carter, who spent most of 2016 on the Vikings practice squad. Stacy Coley also had another strong showing.
The seventh-round pick out of Miami led the team with 76 receiving yards on just four catches.
Coley's longest of the night occurred on second-and-10, midway through the fourth quarter. Keenum stayed calm amidst pressure from the defense and found Coley on the left sideline, launching it to the rookie for a 39-yard completion.
"They showed a quick jam in Cover 2, but the safety never got off the hash," Coley said. "I just kept my route on, and Case just saw me with my hands up and made a great play."
Coley later snagged a 15-yard pass from Heinicke on third-and-8 to put the Vikings inside the 10-yard line and set up Newby's touchdown.
Other rookie showings Sunday night included Cayleb Jones, who recorded three catches for 26 yards, and tight end Bucky Hodges, who made a 13-yard catch late in the second quarter. Dalvin Cook had five rushes for 17 yards.
On defense, rookie linebacker Ben Gedeon made a second straight start at weakside linebacker as Minnesota continues its evaluation of the best fit for Chad Greenway's old position. Gedeon finished with one tackle. Undrafted rookies Tashawn Bower and Eric Wilson recorded two and three tackles, respectively, and Bower added a tackle for loss. Jaleel Johnson had two tackles and a quarterback hurry.
Coley said it "meant a lot" that the second and third-team crews were able to come together to help put points on the board and help Minnesota find a "W."
"It showed our accountability to the team and let them know what we can do when the starters are out. We can just come in the game and bring the game home," Coley said. "We have great leaders in our room coaching us in every way, and we're just making plays."