Minnesota Vikings Defensive Review: Week 1 vs. the Cincinnati Bengals

(Photo by Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports) Michael Pierce
(Photo by Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports) Michael Pierce /

The Minnesota Vikings spent a lot of resources on the defense this past offseason, but how did they play on the field in Week 1?

Overall, the Minnesota Vikings played quite well on defense in Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals, considering several players didn’t play a snap last season on that side of the ball.

The Vikings defense looked as you would expect a new defense to look. There were many positives, but there were also a lot of things Minnesota needs to work on in the coming weeks.

The Vikings gave up 27 points in Week 1. They gave up 217 passing yards, and the bulk of that was a 50-yard passing touchdown to Bengals rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase at the end of the first half.

Minnesota was generally good in pass coverage throughout the game, other than cornerback Bashaud Breeland who had a tough outing against Chase, who beat him for the big touchdown and committed the pass interference penalty that led to another touchdown for Cincinnati.

Main takeaways from the Minnesota Vikings defense in Week 1

The defense made some very crucial stops when it needed them the most. Apart from one very gutsy play by the Bengals in overtime to essentially win the game, the Vikings’ defense gave the offense every opportunity to go and win the game.

In overtime, Minnesota’s defense managed to get off the field relatively quickly. Even with the Dalvin Cook fumble, it took Cincinnati all four downs to move the ball and eventually get into field goal range.

The main concern for Vikings fans would be allowing the Bengals to rush for 149 yards with an average of 4.1 yards per carry. Defending the run was a concern last year, and with all the reinforcements, you would expect Minnesota to have solved that, but that wasn’t evident in week one. But with time and players understanding their gap responsibilities, this should be better going forward.

Finally, the Vikings defense made it into Cincinnati’s backfield on multiple occasions but just couldn’t complete the play by getting the sack or tackle for loss. Missed tackles aren’t something Minnesota fans are used to seeing from their team and should expect that to be cleared up.

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Considering the Vikings had eight new starters on defense, they played pretty well. Of course, there are improvements to be made, and with time and good communication, this defense will be elite.