It was a very interesting and, dare I say, entertaining half of football between the Vikings and Bills. The offense produced 16 points on two Blair Walsh field goals and one touchdown pass from Christian Ponder to Jerome Felton. The TD capped a neat opening drive that saw several big plays, none bigger than Jerome Simpson’s 34-yard reception which ended with an acrobatic hurdle by the exuberant receiver. That drive unfortunately also featured two sacks on Ponder, one charged to John Sullivan, the other to Matt Kalil. The next Viking drive stalled when Ponder failed to connect on a pair of end zone passes.
Ponder did overall have a nice night, going 10-of-13 for 136 yards and 1 TD. Jerome Simpson caught 3 balls for 33 yards and Michael Jenkins added one big 35-yard reception. Kyle Rudolph had one catch but unfortunately was forced to leave after suffering a cut behind the ear. All indications are that Rudolph will be fine. The only other injury for the Vikings was an apparent blow to the head for Chris Cook who underwent concussion tests on the sideline.
As for the defense, it too played much better than last Friday. With starters Jared Allen, Antoine Winfield and Kevin Williams back in, and rookie Harrison Smith getting his first start, the D mostly overwhelmed Buffalo, getting great penetration and stuffing the run, and making good plays against the pass. Smith made one big play, blitzing into Ryan Fitzpatrick’s face and batting down a pass. Mistral Raymond also had several big plays, stuffing a run, coming up for a big tackle after a middle screen and later knocking down a pass.
The defensive stand-outs were Smith, Raymond and Jasper Brinkley. On the flipside, Chris Carr had his second glaring gaffe of the preseason, badly whiffing on a tackle in the open field. Jamarca Sanford didn’t help his own cause by dropping an interception. Rookie Josh Robinson showed up well, displaying good coverage technique on one pass and great recovery speed after being burned by a double move. Joe Webb came in as second team QB and played better than last week, showing his big play running ability a couple of times. He still struggled with his passing though, failing to connect with Devin Aromashodu on a pair of fades when Aromashodu had his man one-on-one down the sideline.