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Vikings Start Fast, Finish Strong in 34-25 Preseason Win Over Saints 

The Vikings first-team offense wanted to start the game fast, and they did just that.

Adam Thielen appeared to snag the 35-yard score on the first drive, but after review, the receiver was ruled down at the 1-yard line.

That just opened the door for rookie running back Alexander Mattison, however, who got open in the end zone for his first NFL touchdown.

Kyle Rudolph played a major role in moving Minnesota down the field, notching grabs for 10 and 20 yards, respectively.

The Vikings defense saw some ups and downs on its first possession. The unit allowed multiple plays of double-digit-yard gains, including one between two former Vikings when Teddy Bridgewater completed a 17-yard pass to Latavius Murray, but cornerback Trae Waynes came up big by thwarting a Bridgewater pass to Trey Hendrickson. New Orleans settled for a 27-yard field goal.

Vikings quarterback Sean Mannion took over for the remainder of the first half.

Midway through the second quarter, Minnesota extended a 1-point lead to eight with a series highlighted by rookie receiver Bisi Johnson, who made catches of 17 and 18 yards, respectively. The latter was an impressive grab over the top of Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson for a touchdown.

The Vikings most efficient defensive outing of the first half occurred late in the second quarter, when a 10-yard sack of Bridgewater by Jalyn Holmes forced the Saints to punt, having gone three-and-out.

A fumble by Ameer Abdullah deep in Saints territory swung momentum in the Saints favor, and they capitalized with a touchdown pass to tight end Dan Arnold. A 2-point conversion attempt was no good, and Minnesota entered halftime with a 14-12 lead.

Bridgewater was held to 134 yards through the air but had a notable passer rating of 110.4.

Taysom Hill took over under center for the Saints in the second half, and early on a bobbled pass by Arnold was intercepted by Vikings cornerback Nate Meadors, who sprinted into the end zone to extend Minnesota’s lead to 21-12.

Two more touchdowns by rookie fullback Khari Blasingame and running back Mike Boone sealed the deal for the Vikings, despite the Saints putting up back-to-back points (a field goal and touchdown) in the fourth quarter.

The Vikings had a balanced attack, finishing the night with 247 passing yards and 213 rushing yards. The Saints totaled 196 yards and 141 yards, respectively.

Cousins finished his night 4-of-4 passing for 65 yards and one touchdown. He achieved the max passer rating of 158.3.

Thielen led the first-team pass catchers with one grab for 34 yards, followed by Rudolph’s two catches for 30 yards.

Tyler Conklin led the Vikings receiving with two catches for 56 yards.

Mannion was 7-of-13 passing for 102 yards, one touchdown and a 105.3 passer rating.

Kyle Sloter was 6-of-7 passing for 62 yards, one touchdown and a 143.2 passer rating.

Jake Browning was 2-of-3 passing for 18 yards, no touchdowns and an 82.6 passer rating.

Young defensive linemen took advantage of opportunities; Holmes and Mata’afa each notched a sack of Bridgewater. Holmes had another sack, but the play was negated by a penalty.

All three of Minnesota’s touchdowns were scored by rookies.

The Vikings played with the following offensive line units (from left to right):

FIRST OL: Riley Reiff, Pat Elflein, Garrett Bradbury, Josh Kline and Rashod Hill

SECOND OL: Storm Norton, Dakota Dozier, Brett Jones, Danny Isidora and Hill.

THIRD OL: Norton, John Keenoy, Cornelius Edison, Dru Samia, Oli Udoh

Both teams were flagged for a barrage of penalties: Minnesota had 13, and New Orleans had eight.

Scoring Drives

Q1, 10:38 remaining

Vikings 7, Saints 0

On first-and-goal from the New Orleans 1, Kirk Cousins finds rookie Alexander Mattison in the back of the end zone for his first NFL touchdown. [8 plays, 76 yards, 4:22]

Starting fast: The Vikings first-team offense wanted to start fast, and they achieved their goal by notching 7 on their first drive.

Q1, 2:26 remaining

Saints 3, Vikings 7

Wil Lutz kicks a 27-yard field goal. [14 plays, 55 yards, 8:12]

Waynes makes the stop: A pass breakup by Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes forced New Orleans to settle for 3.

Q2, 9:58 remaining

Saints 6, Vikings 7

Wil Lutz kicks a 52-yard field goal. [12 plays, 59 yards, 5:53]

Pressure by the youngsters: Sacks of Teddy Bridgewater by Vikings defensive linemen Ifeadi Odenigbo (loss of 5) and Hercules Mata’afa (loss of 8) held the Saints from getting into the end zone.

Q2, 6:07 remaining

Vikings 14, Saints 6

Sean Mannion finds rookie receiver Bisi Johnson for an 18-yard touchdown. [7 plays, 76 yards, 3:51]

Over the top: Johnson’s impressive grab was made over Patrick Robinson and behind his helmet.

Q2, :44 remaining

Saints 12, Vikings 14

Bridgewater connects with tight end Dan Arnold for an 18-yard touchdown. [6 plays, 79 yards, 1:02]

The Saints 2-point conversion attempt is unsuccessful.

Losing possession: A fumble by Ameer Abdullah in Saints territory was recovered by New Orleans and led to the score.

Q3, 12:13 remaining

Vikings 21, Saints 12

A pass by Saints quarterback Taysom Hill is bobbled by Dan Arnold, and Vikings cornerback Nate Meadors snags the pick-six. [30-yard interception return]

Right place, right time: Meadors capitalized on great placement for the bobbled catch and secured the interception.

Q3, 6:38 remaining

Saints 15, Vikings 21

Lutz kicks a 26-yard field goal. [11 plays, 68 yards, 5:35]

Stead defense: Minnesota’s defense was effective throughout the drive, forcing Hill and the Saints to settle for mostly small-chunk plays, with the exception of two double-digit gains.

Q3, 2:44 remaining

Vikings 27, Saints 15

Kyle Sloter hits Vikings rookie fullback Khari Blasingame for a 2-yard score. A designed run by Sloter on a 2-point conversion attempt comes up just short of the pilon.

And Khari makes three: Blasingame became the third Vikings rookie to score a touchdown in as many quarters.

Q4, 14:55 remaining

Saints 18, Vikings 27

Lutz kicks a 42-yard field goal. [9 plays, 25 yards, 3:59]

Stopped by Smith: Vikings rookie linebacker Cam Smith made three tackles on the drive to help keeo New Orleans out of the end zone.

Q4, 8:44 remaining

Saints 25, Vikings 27

Hill connects with Lil’Jordan Humphrey for a 33-yard touchdown. [5 plays, 83 yards, 2:12]

Closing the gap: Hill sparked the Saints in the fourth quarter, leading a comeback to come within three points.

Q4, 7:09 remaining

Vikings 34, Saints 25

Second-year running back Mike Boone takes the handoff from rookie quarterback Jake Browning, cuts around to the left sideline and rumbles 64 yards to the end zone. [4 plays, 75 yards, 1:35]

Seals the deal: Boone’s explosive run helped Minnesota pull ahead for good, starting the preseason 1-0.

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