The Vikings season opener at Cincinnati on Sunday had some bright spots but also left plenty to be wanting.
Penalties plagued Minnesota's offense, and while the defense played fairly well throughout the afternoon, a few key miscues were painfully felt.
ESPN asked its team beat reporters to break down Week 1 contests around the league and provide a "confidence rating" for the upcoming Week 2 matchups. Courtney Cronin wrote the following of Minnesota's outing:
The issues from the preseason – especially those on offense – were not an overreaction. Minnesota received some help from the Bengals, but Sunday was hideous offensively. Kirk Cousins looked uncomfortable, the offensive line made error after error and the Vikings couldn't establish any semblance of a run game with Dalvin Cook.
View game action photos of the Vikings before the season opener against the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium.
It's only one game, but every contest holds considerable weight, and Cronin opined that the Vikings offensive line must be addressed.
It's hard to get anything going offensively when the O-line racks up countless holding and false-start penalties. The offensive line was responsible for 70 of the team's 116 total penalty yards on Sunday, and the interior got pushed around. Cousins does not look comfortable or like he knows where his protection is, and that's a problem that doesn't appear to have an easy fix.
On a scale of 0-10, Cronin ranked her confidence level in the Vikings moving forward at a 5.0.
Next up for the Vikings are the Cardinals, who defeated the Titans yesterday. Kickoff is set for 3:05 (CT) in Arizona.
The Vikings have to go on the road again next week to play an Arizona team that beat Tennessee 38-13. Considering how poorly the offensive line held up against Cincinnati, it's difficult to fathom how it'll be any better against the Cardinals pass rush, which featured a five-sack day from Chandler Jones in Week 1.
Vikings receive 'C' grade for OT loss
It's Week 1, which means grades are upon us.
CBS Sports' John Breech handed out letter grades for every team who played Thursday-Sunday, and he gave Minnesota a "C" for its 27-24 overtime loss.
Breech said the Vikings "weren't the worst team in the NFL in Week 1, but they were definitely the most undisciplined." He wrote:
The Vikings had four penalties on their first possession, and things only got uglier from there as they got flagged 12 times for 116 yards. To put that in perspective, there were only six teams ALL last season that totaled more than 116 penalty yards. The penalties kept killing drives, which made it a busy day for Jordan Berry, who punted eight times. The Vikings were also crushed by a controversial fumble call in overtime when Dalvin Cook turned the ball over. The Vikings outgained the Bengals (403-366), but they kept making mistakes, and those mistakes kept piling up, which made it impossible for them to win.
On the other side, Breech gave the Bengals an A-minus for getting out of the game with a win. He pointed out that Cincinnati's offense was "firing on all cylinders in this game," which featured Justin Jefferson's former LSU teammates Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase.
Not only did Burrow make several clutch plays in a 261-yard performance, but the Bengals offense also produced a 100-yard receiver (Chase) and a 100-yard rusher (Joe Mixon). Mixon quietly had a huge day with 33 touches for 150 total yards and a TD. The Bengals weren't perfect – they surrendered five sacks and [Head Coach] Zac Taylor made an ugly fourth-down call in the second half – but their record is perfect right now, and that's all that matters.