Vikings offense shines in preseason victory over Saints

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Kirk Cousins
(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Kirk Cousins /

The Minnesota Vikings offense had a solid opener against the New Orleans Saints on Friday night as they picked up a 34-25 victory at the Superdome.

With the way that the 2018 season ended for the Minnesota Vikings, a good showing in their preseason opener on Friday night was a must.

Traveling a fellow NFC contender in the New Orleans Saints, Friday was a chance to get some good things on tape and try to build on them as they approach their September 8 regular season opener against the Atlanta Falcons.

When Friday’s date in the Bayou was completed, the Vikings were able to put together plenty of highlights — especially on the offensive end — as they picked up their first (albeit unofficial) victory of the season in a 34-25 win over the Saints.

For most fans, the biggest takeaway from this game will be the performance of starting quarterback Kirk Cousins. Under fire after a dismal end to last season, Cousins looked poised and confident in the pocket and even executed a 10-yard scramble to keep the Vikings opening drive going on a 3rd and 9.

As Minnesota marched down the field, Cousins would connect with Adam Thielen on a 35-yard strike that was originally ruled a touchdown, but then overturned to place the ball at the one-yard line. On the next play, Cousins would execute a play-action bootleg to find a wide-open Alexander Mattison for the Vikings’ first touchdown of the preseason.

The $84 million man for Minnesota, Cousins finished his evening going 4-for-4 for 65 yards and a touchdown.

Sean Mannion took over for Cousins from there and after former Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater drove the Saints to two long drives resulting in field goals, Mannion would have a response connecting with Tyler Conklin on a 34-yard reception and then throwing a fade to Olabisi Johnson, who adjusted nicely on the underthrow for an 18-yard touchdown and a 14-6 lead.

Minnesota was in a position to add to the lead before halftime. But after a drive that was led by Ameer Abdullah, the 2018 mid-season pickup literally dropped the ball in the red zone to give New Orleans an opportunity for a two-minute drill. Bridgewater would gladly oblige, finding Dan Arnold for an 18-yard touchdown and that sent the Vikings to the locker room up 14-12 at the half.

In the third quarter, Nathan Meadors capitalized on a bobbled pass off the hands of Arnold to extend Minnesota’s lead to 21-12. After another Saints field goal, Vikings quarterback Kyle Sloter entered the game and found Khari Blasingame for a two-yard touchdown to blow the game open at 26-12.

New Orleans made it a game late, however, as they kicked their fourth field goal of the night and Lil’Jordan Humphrey caught a 33-yard touchdown pass from Taysom Hill to bring Minnesota’s lead down to 27-25.

Mike Boone then had the immediate answer as his 64-yard touchdown run gave the Vikings the cushion they needed for the preseason victory.

Minnesota’s defense had a solid bend but don’t break game that saw Jalyn Holmes and Hercules Mata’afa both record sacks. Dan Bailey also had a solid night for the Vikings going 4-for-4 in his extra-point attempts.

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With the preseason opener in the books, Minnesota will head home to prepare for their next exhibition matchup against the Seattle Seahawks inside U.S. Bank Stadium when they host the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, August 18 at 7 p.m CST.