CINCINNATI — It was a little slow, but at least it was a start. Then, it was a little dicey, but at least it was a finish.
The Vikings opened their preseason slate with a 17-16 win over the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on Friday night.
Minnesota's first-team offense was limited to three plays in the first quarter, but bounced back with a 96-yard scoring drive in the second quarter.
Teddy Bridgewater made clutch throws on three third downs before taking his first deep shot of the exhibition. He found Charles Johnson, who showed strength to run through contact from a defender and speed to track down the ball on the 49-yard score.
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Bridgewater finished 6-of-7 passing for 92 yards and a passer rating of 158.3.
The Vikings first-team defense played the opening series of the game and forced a 48-yard field goal attempt that was wide right after the Bengals drove 43 yards. Trae Waynes, who started in place of Terence Newman, came up with a pass breakup while defending a heater from Andy Dalton to A.J. Green. Dalton finished 4-of-5 passing for 32 yards, and Green had three catches for 26 yards.
The starters headed to the sideline, and the second-team defense logged considerable work during Cincinnati's second possession, a 22-play grinder that spanned 90 yards but yielded no points.
Audie Cole made a key tackle shy of the sticks on a third-and-5 play, and the Vikings used a team effort to stuff Cedric Peerman on a fourth-and-1 play.
Bengals second-year QB A.J. McCarron executed a two-minute drill to tie the game late in the first half. McCarron connected with rookie Tyler Boyd on a 40-yard completion, then quickly fired for a 3-yard score to Alex Erickson.
Veteran Shaun Hill went 4-for-4 for 42 yards in executing a hurry-up drill in 47 seconds that Blair Walsh capped with a 51-yard field goal.
Vikings rookie quarterback Joel Stave led a 74-yard touchdown drive in the third quarter that was capped with a 10-yard touchdown run by C.J. Ham. Stave went 6-for-7 on the drive for 63 yards.
He connected with first-round draft pick Laquon Treadwell twice for 16 yards and with sixth-rounder David Morgan three times for 38 yards.
Erickson returned a punt 80 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, but the Bengals opted to go for two instead of attempting the extra point.
The Vikings ended the Bengals final shot at a comeback with an interception by seventh-round pick Jayron Kearse.
Minnesota, which improved to 9-1 in preseason games under Head Coach Mike Zimmer, visits Seattle on Thursday.
View images of the Vikings first preseason victory at Paul Brown Stadium against the Cincinnati Bengals.