Final auditions over; Vikings finish preseason unbeaten

  • Article by: MATT VENSEL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 29, 2014 - 10:40 AM

The Vikings fell just short of a shutout in a 2½-hour preseason finale.

view larger photos

  

– This felt like a preseason finale, with starters from both teams sitting out, the Vikings and Titans both keeping the clock moving to avoid injuries, and the bleachers at LP Field mostly vacant because of rain showers and an NCAA game across town on Vanderbilt’s campus.

It wouldn’t have been a surprise to hear that the Vikings started up their buses to the airport at halftime.

Beyond the important decisions that coach Mike Zimmer has to make at middle linebacker, strong safety and on the back end of his 53-man roster — which will be revealed Saturday — there was not much to evaluate in a game in which a handful of lesser-known Vikings players made extended cameos.

Heck, there was even a Christian Ponder sighting, the first since the preseason opener.

But the Vikings did beat the Titans 19-3 in a sloppy but fast-paced game, completing their first unbeaten preseason since 2001.

“More than the record in the preseason, I feel good about the way that we’ve performed,” Zimmer said. “We’ve taken care of the football. We’ve not made a lot of mistakes. We haven’t been a big penalty team. We seem to be doing the right things.”

This is the seventh time that the Vikings went undefeated in the preseason. In four of the ensuing regular seasons, they had a winning record. In three, they made the playoffs.

And in 1973, they went all the way to the Super Bowl. Of course, a perfect preseason is no guarantee for success. In 2001, the year after their 41-0 loss in the NFC Championship Game, the Vikings won five games.

Before giving way to the second-stringers and roster long shots Thursday, the Vikings in the preseason were mostly sharp offensively, and Zimmer’s defense offered hope that a turnaround will soon come.

But a good idea of who the Vikings will be in 2014 won’t become clear until they play a game that counts in the standings. The first one of those will be in St. Louis on Sept. 7 against the Rams.

“It’s always nice to win, especially when you’re starting a new program,” Zimmer said. “But to me, it’s how are we playing? What kind of football are we playing? And hopefully that will carry us on.”

With Zimmer holding out all of his clear-cut starters Thursday night, including top quarterback Matt Cassel, rookie Teddy Bridgewater — sans gloves — made his first start in the NFL, albeit in a preseason game. He completed four of nine attempts for 17 yards and a touchdown and steered the Vikings to a pair of scores on his first two drives before exiting the game.

“He’s getting better each and every week,” Zimmer said.

Second-year running back Joe Banyard did most of the heavy lifting, rushing for 111 yards on 18 carries.

Banyard’s 20-yard run on the opening drive set up a 3-yard touchdown pass from Bridgewater to wide receiver Adam Thielen that gave the Vikings a 7-0 lead. It was the only touchdown of the night.

Ponder, who did not play in the team’s second and third preseason games, replaced Bridgewater with 9:26 left in the first half. For the most part, it was a positive performance. He completed 12 of 15 attempts for 121 yards.

“I’m especially proud of Christian Ponder because I know there have been a lot of fans and a lot of people who have been negative toward him,” Zimmer said. “He went out and performed well tonight.”

Kicker Blair Walsh booted four field goals to put the Vikings up 19-0. Titans kicker Maikon Bonani split the uprights in the middle of the fourth quarter to end the shutout.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 7:07 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
Houston 23 FINAL
Pittsburgh 30
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
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
Houston 7:00 PM
Miami
Indiana 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Utah 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Portland 8:00 PM
Denver
Phoenix 9:00 PM
LA Lakers
LA Clippers 9:30 PM
Golden State
San Jose 6:00 PM
Boston
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Toronto 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
Detroit 6:30 PM
Montreal
Arizona 7:00 PM
Nashville
Carolina 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Philadelphia 7:30 PM
Chicago
Vancouver 7:30 PM
Dallas
Florida 8:00 PM
Colorado
Tampa Bay 8:00 PM
Calgary
Arkansas State 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 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
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
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: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close