Since I have already reviewed the offense and defense, I felt that special teams deserved their own recognition in the Vikings preseason victory over the Chiefs. Here are my impressions of Minnesota’s special teams efforts:
Kicker Blair Walsh returned to form in this game. He connected on every kick he attempted, going 3/3 on field goals and 3/3 on extra points. He even connected on a longer kick of 41 yards in this game. It’s good to see him connecting on kicks at an outdoor stadium on a regular basis. He needs to continue this positive momentum into week 4 of the preseason and keep going into the Vikings regular season. He did allow 3 kick returns, but it is unknown if that was on purpose to test the kick return team’s coverage abilities.
Jeff Locke punted like a veteran. On his 4 punt attempts, Locke averaged 48.5 yards per punt, landing one inside the 20 and only having a single punt fall into the endzone. This is the second game in a row where Locke seemed to be confident and reliable as a punter. Considering some of the criticism he was getting near the beginning of the year, he looks to be back on track for a solid year.
One punt returner shined while another struggled. Usual Vikings punt returner Marcus Sherels returned 3 punts and averaged only 1.7 yards per return. However, rising star Adam Thielen really took advantage of his 3 punt return opportunities, nearly bringing one back to the house and having another that didn’t go anywhere. The long return was taken 75 yards and ended up giving the Vikings offense a very short field to take advantage of.
Overall, special teams was a major bright spot for the team. The Vikings won all three phases of the game in what seemed like a mismatch from the start. If this is the kind of effort we can expect from this Minnesota Vikings team, they should exceed most people’s expectations this year.