MINNEAPOLIS — Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has stressed the importance of forcing more turnovers this season to every defender since training camp opened.
Three players who were new to the team this season showed they were listening by collecting three takeaways in the final 4:10 of the first half, leading to 13 momentum-swinging points before the break in a 27-25 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in the first night game at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Zimmer improved to 12-1 in preseason games in three seasons at the Vikings helm, and he has four turnovers to thank for helping his team finish the preseason 4-0, the eighth undefeated exhibition slate in franchise history.
Jayron Kearse alertly pounced on the ball after it was erroneously touched by a Rams player during a punt. The fumble recovery gave the Vikings the ball at the Los Angeles 19-yard line, and Blair Walsh put Minnesota on the board with a 30-yard field.
Stephen Weatherly also showed a quick response when he pounced on the ball at the Los Angeles 9-yard line after fellow rookie Jared Goff fumbled the shotgun snap three plays later. Walsh added a 34-yard field goal to make it 7-6 with 55 seconds left in the first half.
Toby Johnson then delivered one of the most graceful diving interceptions by a 325-pound defensive tackle in the history of diving interceptions by defensive tackles. Johnson, who joined as a free agent in the offseason, laid out for a ball that was tipped by Justin Trattou.
This time, the Vikings capitalized on the red zone possession a play later when Brad Sorenson completed a screen pass to Jhurell Pressley, who rumbled his way 28 yards for a touchdown.
Pressley also returned a kickoff 106 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter to answer a field goal by the Rams with fireworks.
Kearse forced a fumble by fellow rookie Paul McRoberts during a punt return. Kearse's draft classmate David Morgan recovered the ball at the Los Angeles 6, and C.J. Ham rushed three times, punctuated the drive with a 1-yard touchdown plunge.
The Rams mounted a comeback in the fourth quarter with touchdown drives of 61 and 64 yards. McRoberts caught a 2-yard touchdown pass that was followed with a 2-point conversion run.
Aaron Green added a 26-yard touchdown run a play after the two-minute warning.
The attendance of 66,262 topped Sunday's home-game record of 66,143.
View images from the first night game at U.S. Bank Stadium as the Vikings took on the Rams.