First-team defense continues to shine, Vikings beat Kansas City

  • Article by: MATT VENSEL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 24, 2014 - 7:47 PM

The Vikings picked off Alex Smith twice and kept the Chiefs quarterback on the run during their stellar half of work in a victory.

view larger photos


– Mike Zimmer has acknowledged that he probably won’t be able to fix the Vikings defense overnight. But in their third preseason game Saturday night, a 30-12 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, his starters showed flashes of the smothering unit he one day expects them to become.

“We get better and better each and every practice,” cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said. “We learn how to play with each other better. This defense, we can be one of the top defenses in the league.”

Sure, a cynic might say that is a little ambitious. They might also point out that the Chiefs were without star running back Jamaal Charles and top wide receiver Dwayne Bowe.

But for two quarters the Vikings harassed the first-stringers the Chiefs did trot out there, including quarterback Alex Smith, before Zimmer removed his defensive starters. And if not for some crafty scrambling by Smith, the Vikings might have doubled their total of five sacks.

“We probably could have made quite a few more if we were more disciplined in our rush lanes,” Zimmer said. “We had our hands around the quarterback quite a few times and didn’t get him on the ground.”

Zimmer probably wasn’t thrilled that Smith steered the Chiefs into the red zone three times in the first half, but the Vikings held them to just three points on those possessions. And after the Vikings took a 10-5 lead into halftime, they pulled away in the third quarter thanks to a pair of touchdown passes from rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

The Vikings improved to 3-0 in Zimmer’s first preseason as a head coach. In those three wins, the starters for the Vikings, who ranked next to last in total defense a season ago, surrendered just 17 points in about five quarters of action.

But they hadn’t, at least until Saturday night, pressured the quarterback with regularity. And they certainly hadn’t been forcing turnovers like they did against the Chiefs.

Munnerlyn intercepted Smith in the end zone in the first quarter, and in the second, linebacker Chad Greenway stepped in front of one of Smith’s passes in the red zone. Cornerback Shaun Prater got the Vikings’ third interception of the night — they had only one in their first two games — when he picked off Chiefs backup Tyler Bray after Smith exited early in the third quarter.

Offensively, Matt Cassel and the first-stringers picked up where they left off a week prior, when Cassel led the Vikings on three first-half scoring drives in a wild victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

After Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt pinned the Vikings at their 3, Matt Asiata picked up 31 yards after catching a swing pass. Asiata moved the chains again with a couple of productive rushes. Then Cassel froze the Chiefs defense with a crafty play-action fake and fired a 53-yard touchdown pass to Cordarrelle Patterson for an early 7-0 lead.

But Cassel quickly cooled off, and linebacker Tamba Hali and a dangerous Chiefs pass rush had something to do with that. Cassel was sacked three times, including one in the end zone by Chiefs defensive end Jaye Howard that forced Cassel to fumble out of the back of the end zone for the safety.

In the second quarter, with the Vikings leading 7-5, Cassel made his first glaring mistake of the preseason, overshooting wide receiver Jerome Simpson on a deep ball. Chiefs cornerback Ron Parker picked off Cassel, the quarterback’s first interception of the preseason.

Cassel, who remained in the game until late in the third quarter and completed seven of his 15 attempts for 68 yards after the team’s opening drive, remains the heavy favorite to start Week 1.

Bridgewater entered the game after Prater’s interception and hit tight end Allen Reisner in the right flat for an 8-yard touchdown that expanded the lead to 20-5.

On the first play after a 75-yard punt return by wide receiver Adam Thielen, Bridgewater and Reisner connected again. The touchdown gave the Vikings a 27-5 lead and sent many of the sweaty stragglers left at Arrowhead Stadium, which had a temperature of 97 degrees at the opening kickoff, heading toward the parking lots.

Zimmer still has a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball before the season opener, including officially picking between Cassel and Bridgewater. But he appeared pleased with how far this team has come over the past few weeks, especially from a Vikings defense in transition.

“Obviously there’s still quite a bit of things we have to work on that we need to get better at,” Zimmer said. “But it’s good to see them get some interceptions. Usually when you get around the quarterback, good things happen.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Fla Southern 2 FINAL
Detroit 12
Miami 7
Toronto 114 FINAL
Philadelphia 103
Golden State 108 FINAL
Brooklyn 110
Phoenix 98 FINAL
Miami 115
LA Clippers 110 FINAL
Minnesota 105
New Orleans 93 FINAL
Dallas 102
Nashville 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Carolina 2 FINAL
Chicago 5
Montreal 0 FINAL
San Jose 4
Virginia 59 FINAL
Syracuse 47
Baylor 59 FINAL
Texas 61
SE Louisiana 79 FINAL
Northwestern St 92
Central Arkansas 49 FINAL
Sam Houston St 76
Norfolk State 59 FINAL
Howard 61
Bethune-Cookman 50 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 75 FINAL
Delaware State 85
Lamar 69 FINAL
McNeese State 70
Nicholls 89 FINAL
New Orleans 79
Incarnate Word 62 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 83
NC Central 62 FINAL
Savannah State 49
Texas Southern 77 FINAL
Alabama A&M 75
Prairie View 67 FINAL
Alabama State 65
Oklahoma 70 FINAL
Iowa State 77
Grambling St 62 FINAL
Miss Valley St 66
Boston College 66 FINAL
Virginia Tech 59
Jackson State 62 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 64
Bethune-Cookman 55 FINAL
NC A&T 58
Hampton 78 FINAL
Delaware State 63
Norfolk State 63 FINAL
Howard 60
NC Central 54 FINAL
Savannah State 65
Texas Southern 83 FINAL
Alabama A&M 46
Prairie View 42 FINAL
Alabama State 60
Jackson State 78 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 74
Grambling 56 FINAL
Miss Valley St 61
Tulsa 71 FINAL
Cincinnati 58
(1) Connecticut 88 FINAL
South Florida 65
East Carolina 67
Central Conn St 53 FINAL
Bryant 55
Wagner 66 FINAL
Robert Morris 60
Sacred Heart 75 FINAL
Fairleigh Dickinson 84
St Francis-NY 73 FINAL
Long Island 49
Mount St Marys 87 FINAL
St Francis-PA 90
Temple 56 FINAL
Houston 45
Texas Tech 65 FINAL
(6) Baylor 75
Iowa State 64 FINAL
Kansas 68
Memphis 53
Oklahoma 66 FINAL
Oklahoma St 56
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters



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 NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9




question of the day

Poll: With Adrian Peterson's suspension overturned, what should the Vikings do?

Weekly Question