Rookie linebacker Audie Cole has late-game heroics

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 18, 2012 - 12:00 AM
hide

Vikings linebacker Audie Cole had two interception returns for touchdowns in the fourth quarter Friday`.

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

It didn't take Audie Cole very long to count the number of interceptions he's returned for touchdowns in his 23 years on this earth.

"Counting tonight?" he asked. "Two."

Even a hot start by quarterback Christian Ponder and the Vikings' offense was overshadowed by Cole, the big, athletic linebacker who had pick-six returns of 20 and 30 yards on back-to-back plays -- just 13 seconds apart -- late in the fourth quarter of Friday's 36-14 preseason victory over Buffalo at Mall of America Field.

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier indicated that Cole, a rookie seventh-round draft pick taken 210th overall, has increased his chances of making the 53-man roster on a team desperate for depth at linebacker.

"He seems to be one of those guys who maybe is someone who just has a knack for making the big play," Frazier said. "His first play as a pro last week [in San Francisco], he gets a sack. And now he has two touchdowns in one game."

On the first touchdown, Bills quarterback Tyler Thigpen tried to throw the ball over Cole's head. Big problem, since Cole stands an Urlacher-esque 6-5.

Cole weaved through traffic and reached the ball over the goal line.

"Everybody on the sideline said I should have run it straight in," Cole said. "But I didn't know. I don't touch the ball usually, so I tried to make some moves."

The second time Cole reached the end zone, after picking off Brad Smith, most of his teammates joined him there in celebration.

Ponder efficient

Ponder wants a 75 percent completion percentage on first and second downs this season. He met that lofty goal and then some on Friday.

Playing only three possessions, Ponder was efficient and explosive while throwing the ball on first and second down. He completed eight of 10 passes (80 percent) to seven receivers for 128 yards, four first downs and a touchdown in those situations.

One of the incompletions was a flea-flicker that he wisely threw away when Jerome Simpson was covered.

Run defense responds

The Vikings run defense -- or lack thereof -- was a hot topic of discussion after the 49ers ran for 260 yards in a 17-6 victory last week. That won't be the case this week as the Vikings first-team defense swarmed the Buffalo running game from the get-go on Friday.

With tackle Kevin Williams, end Jared Allen and cornerback Antoine Winfield back in the lineup, the Vikings held Buffalo to minus-6 yards on four carries in the first quarter. Starters began exiting the field after the quarter.

"Jared came up to me on the sideline during the game and reminded me, 'See the difference [in the run defense] when the first unit is in there," Frazier said. "We have guys who know how to stop the run. We just have to bring the other guys along."

Etc.

• Tight end Kyle Rudolph and cornerback Chris Cook both left the field after being shaken up on hard hits early in the second quarter. Frazier said both exhibited concussion-like symptoms and will be further evaluated this week.

• Backup quarterback Joe Webb had only a 61.2 passer rating, but his value goes beyond the forward pass. He also had a 41-yard run when his protection broke down on third-and-8. It kept the drive alive and led to a field goal. It was the Vikings' second-longest play behind a 48-yard reception by Emmanuel Arceneaux.

• The Vikings' starting interior offensive line struggled against Buffalo's vaunted defensive line. Bills tackles Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams each had a sack in the first five snaps.

  • NOTES

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Kansas City 1 Bottom 3rd Inning
San Francisco 0
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Dallas 90 4th Qtr 10:39
Orlando 69
New York 48 3rd Qtr 9:36
Toronto 46
San Antonio 32 2nd Qtr 0:46
Houston 46
Miami 45 2nd Qtr 2:54
Memphis 41
Minnesota 64 3rd Qtr
Chicago 64
Phoenix 8:00 PM
Utah
Sacramento 9:00 PM
LA Lakers
Denver 9:30 PM
Golden State
Portland 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Dallas 2 2nd Prd 3:53
New Jersey 1
Tampa Bay 1 2nd Prd
Winnipeg 0
Vancouver 8:00 PM
Colorado
Carolina 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Columbus 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 3 3rd Qtr 15:00
Cincinnati 20
Troy 3 3rd Qtr
South Alabama 10
BYU 0 1st Qtr 15:00
Boise State 0
(6) Oregon 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Houston 1 1st Half 5:00
Chicago 0
Montreal 23 10:21
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who wins and loses in football this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close