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Ben Goessling

Sports reporter | Vikings

Ben Goessling covers the Vikings for the Star Tribune. He has covered the team since 2012, and has previously covered the Twins, Wild, Washington Nationals and prep sports.

After graduating from Apple Valley High School, Goessling majored in accounting and journalism at the University of Minnesota. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two daughters. He coaches high school track and field and cross country, plays electric guitar and enjoys volunteering at Hope Academy in the Phillips neighborhood.
Recent content from Ben Goessling
Bud Grant posed with Kevin O’Connell’s children after his introductory press conference last year.

Kevin and Bud: O'Connell fondly recalls weekly meetings with Grant

One of the first things Bud Grant said to the new Vikings coach was, "We should grab lunch next week." That turned into a weekly visit for O'Connell and Grant, who died earlier this month.
Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell spoke Tuesday during the NFC head coaches availability at the NFL football meetings in Phoenix.

After bittersweet goodbyes, Vikings maintain 'super-competitive' goal

Two prominent players have left the team, but second-year defenders and free-agent pickups will be in position to contribute.
New Vikings pass rusher Marcus Davenport says he’s still upset about only getting half a sack last season with the Saints.

New pass rusher Davenport fired up by O'Connell, upset about last year

When Marcus Davenport spoke with Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell, he got a charge from the head coach's excitement about him.
Oli Udoh

Vikings agree to terms on new deal with offensive lineman Udoh

Oli Udoh, the former sixth-round pick, returns for a fifth season in Minnesota, where he'll likely continue his role as a versatile backup.
Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah spoke at the NFL scouting combine on Feb. 28. “It’s always going to be solutions-oriented,” he said o

Adofo-Mensah proves willing to make necessary changes to Vikings

To watch how the Vikings operated in the past two weeks, it's clear that while sentiment might dignify goodbyes, it won't delay them.
Safety Harrison Smith was a first-round pick by the Vikings in 2012 and ranks fifth in team history with 34 interceptions.

Harrison Smith takes pay cut to stay; status of other veterans unclear

Smith weighed other options but will be coming back for a 12th season in Minnesota. Deadlines are today for contract terms for Za'Darius Smith and Dalvin Cook, and one free-agent introduction wasn't held as planned.
Marcus Davenport (92) posted a career-high nine sacks while playing 11 games in 2021, but had just a half-sack in 14 games last season.

Vikings make Davenport deal, two others official as free-agency starts

Edge rusher Marcus Davenport, a former first-round pick of the Saints, has struggled to stay healthy, but his athletic ability made him an enticing target.
Running back Alexander Mattison has 404 carries for 1,670 yards and 11 touchdowns in four seasons with the Vikings.

New contract for Mattison raises question about Cook's future

If Alexander Mattison's deal in Minnesota makes him a more prominent piece of the offense, it's worth wondering what will happen to Dalvin Cook.
Kirk Cousins is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2023 season.

Source: Vikings add $16 million cap space by juggling Cousins' contract

Instead of giving the quarterback a contract extension, the Vikings used a salary cap maneuver to clear money that can be used elsewhere, while leaving Kirk Cousins' future in question.
 Cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. played nine games for the Cardinals last season while dealing with a back injury.

Vikings add cornerback Murphy, reach deals with four returning players

Former Arizona cornerback Byron Murphy Jr.'s contract is expected to be worth around $22 million over two years. It gives the Vikings a player said to fit defensive coordinator Brian Flores' scheme. More moves are expected today.
Free agents Dalvin Tomlinson and Patrick Peterson (top and bottom left) are signing with new teams while the Vikings are working on a deal with New Or

Vikings losing Tomlinson, Peterson as free agent drama kicks into gear

Dalvin Tomlinson is going to Cleveland and Patrick Peterson to Pittsburgh amid reports that the Vikings were about to make a deal with New Orleans edge rusher Marcus Davenport.
Josh Oliver figures to give the Vikings a blocking complement to T.J. Hockenson.

Vikings reach three-year deal with tight end Oliver in free-agent talks

The free agent negotiating period began Monday and the Vikings added Baltimore's Josh Oliver, a 25-year-old blocking tight end who can complement T.J. Hockenson.
Adam Thielen walked off the field after the Vikings’ loss to the Giants in the playoffs in January.

Vikings release Thielen, ending his 10-year run in Minnesota

Adam Thielen, the receiver from Detroit Lakes and Minnesota State Mankato, leaves with more catches and touchdowns than any Vikings player other than Randy Moss or Cris Carter.
Cornerback Cameron Dantzler, a third-round draft pick in 2020, battled injuries and struggled in coverage during his final two seasons with the Viking

Vikings waive cornerback Dantzler as roster maneuvers continue

The third-round pick in 2020 started just nine games last year, slipping behind Duke Shelley on the depth chart.
During his first year as a head coach, Kevin O’Connell said, managing all three phases of play was a learning experience.

O'Connell focused on improving his communication on game days

Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell said he spent the first part of the offseason thinking through ways he can be clearer about his vision for the team on game days.
In his second scouting combine as Vikings GM, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has calmer days, but the decisions he must make in the next several weeks are no less

Contract calls on Cousins, Jefferson on GM's mind as NFL combine opens

Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah called an extension for Justin Jefferson a "priority," adding he would involve the receiver in conversations about the team's roster.
Dalvin Tomlinson, left, missed four games last season because of a calf injury, but he posted 2½  sacks and tied his career high with 10 quarterback

Vikings get more time to try to work out a deal with Tomlinson

Defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson could become a free agent on March 15, but GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah made it clear the team want Tomlinson back.
Minnesota Vikings fullback C.J. Ham (30) poses for selfies as he and guard Chris Reed (62) warm up ahead of a track and field competition Saturday, Ja

Shot put to second base: Vikings roster and their sports beyond football

Thirty of the current Vikings have competed in track and field and three of them were four-sport high school athletes. Here's the current roster and the sports they've played.
Track, wrestling, golf: Other sports boost Vikings' football success

Track, wrestling, golf: Other sports boost Vikings' football success

Almost 90% of the Minnesota Vikings played more than one high school sport. Some have kept competing or taken up new sports — from organized track and field meets to a star who's been seen playing pick-up soccer in a suburban park.
Vikings defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga (95) took on a larger role on the line toward the end of the regular season. He re-signed with team on Friday.

Vikings re-sign Brandel, Tonga

Offensive lineman Blake Brandel and defensive lineman Khyiris Tonga were key depth players last season for the Vikings.
The Vikings introduced new defensive coordinator Brian Flores to the media at the Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center in Eagan on Wednesday.

'Aggressive by nature,' Flores ready for chance to remake Vikings defense

Brian Flores' partnership with head coach Kevin O'Connell will be central to the Vikings' hopes in 2023, with schematic and personnel changes seemingly in store.
Dalvin Cook was injured on this play against the Lions in September.

Cook has shoulder surgery to tackle shoulder injuries of recent years

Dalvin Cook has dealt with a history of shoulder issues, and dislocated his left shoulder for the second time in less than a year three weeks into the 2022 season.
Brian Flores was the Dolphins head coach from 2019 to 2021, compiling a 24–25 record.

Vikings turn to Flores as their new defensive coordinator

The team finalized a deal with former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, wrapping up a 19-day search that began at a deliberate pace and then picked up dramatically over the weekend.
Wide receiver Adam Thielen left the field after the Vikings beat the Bears on Jan. 8 in Chicago. Thielen is carrying a 2023 salary cap hit of $19.97 m

Go deep on Vikings roster: Player contract status, salary cap hits

Eight players have a 2023 cap hit of more than $10 million, led by Kirk Cousins at $36.3 million. Here's the complete list.
Ejiro Evero was a defensive coordinator in Denver, but his destination could change soon.

Broncos release Evero from contract; Vikings could interview him soon

Ejiro Evero and Brian Flores are considered the top two contenders for the Vikings' defensive coordinator job.
Which of these 18 Vikings will be back?

Which of these 18 Vikings will be back?

The Vikings need to clear roughly $23 million of cap space before the league year begins on March 15, meaning they're headed toward a series of tough choices with some of their longest-tenured players.
Ejiro Evero coaches in Denver, but that could change soon.

Flores, Evero remain names to watch in Vikings defensive coordinator search

The Vikings formally requested permission to interview Ejiro Evero, the Broncos' defensive coordinator, on Friday.
Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow won the AFC championship at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City last season. He’ll try to do it again Sunday.

On the NFL: Home-field advantage still means a lot in the NFL playoffs

The league may view neutral-site conference championships as an untapped revenue stream, but Sunday's games show the relevance of being the home team.
Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson led the NFL in catches (128) and yards (1,809).

Jefferson among five finalists for MVP award — and the only non-QB

No receiver in league history has been MVP. Justin Jefferson, who led the NFL in catches and receiving yards, is also a finalist for Offensive Player of the Year.
Mike Pettine

Vikings interview Pettine for defensive coordinator job

Mike Pettine, the Vikings assistant head coach who has been a coordinator for three teams, gave Kevin O'Connell his first NFL job in 2014.
Seahawks associate head coach Sean Desai was the Bears’ defensive coordinator in 2021. The Vikings have requested to interview Desai for their defen

Vikings request two more interviews in search for defensive coordinator

The Seahawks' Sean Desai and the Saints' Ryan Nielsen join the Steelers' Brian Flores on the list of options to replace Ed Donatell.
Brian Flores, the former Dolphins head coach, served as associate head coach and linebackers coach for the Steelers this season.

Vikings request to interview Flores for defensive coordinator opening

Former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores is currently a senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach for the Steelers.
The Vikings fired defensive coordinator Ed Donatell on Thursday afternoon.

One and done: Donatell fired as Vikings defensive coordinator

Donatell's firing might be just the first of the big changes for the Vikings' defense. Several free players are scheduled to be free agents and other veterans may be salary cap casualties.
Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and coach Kevin O’Connell spoke to the media during an end of the season news conference Wednesday.

Cousins expected back, Donatell fate among issues looming for Vikings

The Vikings face pivotal decisions about a team that currently has only four picks in the 2023 draft and significant salary cap questions. First up could be the coaching staff.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) gives out his cleats to other players in the locker room at the TCO Performance Center in Eagan,

Vikings take stock of a good season. But was it a successful one?

On the day players cleared out their lockers, coach Kevin O'Connell reminded them of all the team accomplished. Stilll, an uncertain offseason is ahead with nearly $20 million in salary cap space to clear.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins walks off the field Sunday after the Vikings’ season ended with a 31-24 loss to the New York Giants.

Vikings can't keep up with Jones, shed 'real tears' after playoff loss

Players talked barely above a whisper, about the plays they could have made in the Vikings' 31-24 loss to the Giants and the uncertainty the playoff defeat injected into their futures.
The Giants blitzed Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins on 27 of his 52 dropbacks in the game between the teams in December, and they’ll likely have som

Vikings mailbag: How worried should Vikings be about Giants' pressure?

New York blitzed Kirk Cousins 52% of the time in the first meeting, and could test a Vikings offensive line dealing with injuries.
After his most successful regular season as a Viking, Kirk Cousins takes all he’s learned out Kevin O’Connell’s offense into the playoffs, where

It's time for Kirk Cousins' final exam: the NFL playoffs

In Kevin O'Connell's first season, Cousins said he has more responsibility in the offense than in any of his first 10 years in the league. Can the quarterback direct the Vikings to playoff success?
Blake Brandel started three games at left tackle for the Vikings earlier this season but hasn’t played since getting hurt Dec. 11 at Detroit.

Vikings activate Brandel from injured reserve before playoff opener vs. Giants

Tackle Blake Brandel tore a knee ligament in the Dec. 11 loss at Detroit but returned to practice this week.
Vikings safety Harrison Smith has five interceptions this season, including this one against Washington in November.

Vikings mailbag: What is Harrison Smith's future in Minnesota?

The safety will be 34 in February and has a $19.2 million cap number for 2023, but has played some of his best games in the past month.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) celebrates a first down catch with K.J. Osborn (17) in the third quarter in Minneapolis, Minn.,

Ben Goessling's Vikings-Giants playoff preview: Who wins and why?

There's been plenty of talk this week about how this is a favorable first-round matchup for the Vikings, but is it?
The scheme of Vikings defensive coordinator Ed Donatell, right, often played two safeties on either side of the hash marks, leaving the middle of the

Vikings mailbag: Are players or scheme to blame for pass defense woes?

The middle of the field was often open against the Vikings defense, though they made some adjustments after a loss to the Lions on Dec. 11.
Vikings receivers Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson celebrate Jefferson’s touchdown against the Jets on Dec. 4. Jefferson will play in a playoff gam

'True brotherhood love.' Vikings say closeness can carry them in playoffs

Vikings Insider: The bond among Vikings players showed through when they trailed the Colts 33-0 at halftime last month. Will it be a factor in the tough games that could be ahead?
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) in action against the New York Giants during the first half of an NFL football game Saturday, De

Vikings mailbag: What happened to the deep throws to Jefferson?

The Vikings offense has struggled to stretch the field at times, which Kevin O'Connell attributed to defenses being preoccupied with stopping Justin Jefferson.
Vikings receiver K.J. Osborn had 117 yards against the Bears on Sunday, including a 66-yard catch in the first quarter.

Hidden gem: Osborn 'as explosive and reliable as anybody' on Vikings

Third-year receiver K.J. Osborn has career highs in catches and snaps this season in a role that requires him to be an integral part of the run game too.
Adam Thielen  of the Vikings caught a touchdown in the first quarter Sunday in Chicago

Vikings beat Bears 29-13, will face Giants in playoffs

The Vikings finished the regular season 13-4 after handing Chicago its 10th loss in a row. They will play the Giants in the wild-card round next Sunday.
Safety Harrison Smith was a full participant in practice all week but coach Kevin O’Connell said the team would take care with players nursing injur

Vikings' Harrison Smith will miss Bears game with knee soreness

In other roster news, Za'Darius Smith will join the team in Chicago after missing practice Friday, and Irv Smith Jr. and Jonathan Bullard were activated from injured reserve.
Justin Jefferson caught 12 passes for 154 yards against Jaylon Jones and the Bears in Week 5.

Ben Goessling's Vikings-Bears preview: Who wins and why?

The Vikings are trying to shake off a blowout loss to the Packers against a 3-13 Chicago team led by a backup quarterback.
Justin Jefferson beat safety Jason Pinnock and the Giants for a fourth-quarter touchdown on Dec. 24. Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell called the route

Cousins-to-Jefferson: How do yards pile up despite defensive attention?

It has taken innovation, and Justin Jefferson's perceptiveness, to spring the receiver for a league-high 1,771 receiving yards in a season where defenses have employed all manner of tactics to stop him.
The display outside of U.S. Bank Stadium showed a tribute Wednesday for Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin.

Hamlin, football's risks on minds of Vikings as they return to work

"You're aware of the risks, and you still have to go play," Kirk Cousins said as the team prepared to play Chicago.
The Vikings could face, clockwise from top left, Geno Smith, Jared Goff, Daniel Jones or Aaron Rodgers in the first round of the NFL playoffs.

Vikings big question: Which first-round opponent is preferred?

Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell indicated starters will play Sunday in Chicago because they want the No. 2 seed for the playoffs if they can get it.
The Packers’ Keisean Nixon returned a first-quarter kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown Sunday against the Vikings.

Erratic special teams have been a signature of Vikings' odd season

The team has been both the initiators and the victims of some of the NFL's biggest special team plays this season.
Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander dances the griddy after breaking up a pass meant for Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson in the first quarter Su

Vikings' 41-17 loss to the Packers shuffles the NFC playoff picture

With a chance to eliminate the Packers from playoff contention on New Year's Day, nearly everything went wrong for the Vikings. They dropped to the No. 3 seed in the playoffs in the process.
2022 Sportsperson of the Year Minnesota Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson photographed Tuesday, December 27, 2022, in Eagan, Minn. ] CARLOS GONZALEZ �

Justin Jefferson cracks the code to NFL stardom

The Vikings receiver has launched himself into record books with a combination of grit, grace and the Griddy.
Will fans get the Justin Jefferson-Jaire Alexander matchup in Week 17 that was largely missing in the Week 1 game between the Vikings and Packers?

Ben Goessling's Vikings-Packers preview: Who wins and why?

The Vikings can effectively end their rivals' playoff hopes with a victory Sunday at Lambeau Field.
Minnesota Vikings place kicker Greg Joseph (1) celebrates his 61 yard winning field goal as New York Giants cornerback Nick McCloud (44) walked off th

Joseph and the amazing 61-yard field goal give Vikings win on final play

Greg Joseph boomed the longest field goal in Vikings history as time ran out Saturday for a 27-24 win over the New York Giants that featured the teams trading touchdowns in the final three minutes.
Coach Kevin O’Connell celebrates with Brian O’Neill and Austin Schlottmann after the Vikings tied their game with the Colts in the fourth quarter

O'Connell as Coach of the Year? How strong is his case?

The coaches leading the Vikings' toughest potential playoff opponents might be O'Connell's stiffest competition for the highest NFL award given to a head coach.
Saturday’s game between the Vikings and the Giants features two of the top running backs in the NFL, Saquon Barkley, left, and Dalvin Cook.

Ben Goessling's Vikings-Giants preview: Who wins and why?

Justin Jefferson nears another record as the Vikings and Giants have eyes on their playoff position Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Oli Udoh

Prosecutors drop charges against Vikings' Udoh from October arrest

Offensive lineman Oli Udoh was arrested at a Miami nightclub in October; misdemeanor charges were dropped at a hearing in Dade County on Thursday.
Dalvin Cook’s 64-yard touchdown on Saturday

Did Dalvin Cook find a new role in the comeback vs. the Colts?

Cook caught four passes for a career-high 95 yards; two of them came on plays designed for him as a wide receiver. Have the Vikings been preparing him for a role that could aid their playoff hopes?
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins threw under pressure in overtime against the Colts on Saturday.

Vikings' Cousins again shows fourth quarter (and beyond) is his time

His performance Saturday put him in the NFL lead for fourth-quarter passing yards and touchdowns this season.
Vikings kicker Greg Joseph celebrates with teammates after kicking the game-winner in overtime Saturday at US Bank Stadium, completing a historic come

Vikings rally from a 33-point deficit to beat Colts, win NFC North

Down by 33 points to the four-win Colts, the Vikings on Saturday completed the biggest comeback in NFL history: a 39-36 overtime win to claim their first division title since 2017.
Patrick Peterson, right, and Chandon Sullivan will be free agents after this season.

Peterson has some answers for Vikings defense, but questions linger about future

Vikings Insider: The team has invested a lot of draft capital in defensive backs, but not many have panned out and younger players on the team still face a learning curve.
Will Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson be celebrating an NFC North title on Saturday?

Ben Goessling's Vikings-Colts preview and prediction: Who wins?

After a week of analyzing their struggling defense, the Vikings face a turnover-prone, low-scoring Indianapolis offense.
After the Vikings gave up 400 yards for the fifth straight game, coach Kevin O’Connell spoke as directly as he has this season about the need for ad

What must Vikings change to solve their big problems on defense?

Coach Kevin O'Connell has called for the Vikings' pass rush to be more aggressive. But what more needs to be done to fix a defense that ranks at the bottom of the NFL?
Kirk Cousins’ strong performance wasn’t enough as the Vikings lost in Detroit on Sunday.

Cousins turned in some of his best work this season in loss to Lions

Quarterback Kirk Cousins was successful over and over in Detroit even though everyone watching knew what was coming. 'He was attempting to will our football team to victory,' Kevin O'Connell said.
Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson had 11 catches against Detroit for a team-record 223 yards.

Little defense for Vikings in loss despite Jefferson's record-setting day

The Vikings will have to wait until at least next weekend to clinch the NFC North, after their issues in Detroit on Sunday proved too much for superlative individual performances by Justin Jefferson and Kirk Cousins to overcome.
Minnesota Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler

Vikings activate Dantzler to return against Detroit

Cameron Dantzler, who injured his ankle on Nov. 6 in Washington, was activated to return to practice this week.
The Lions held Justin Jefferson to three catches and 14 yards in Week 3 — and were called for eight defensive holding, illegal contact or pass inter

Ben Goessling's Vikings-Lions preview: Who wins and why?

The Vikings can clinch the NFC North with a win or tie, but Detroit is favored and has won four of five.
Lions receiver Jameson Williams, left, and Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson are on their current teams because of two unusual trades between NFC North

Fingerprints of Vikings' risk-taking GM will be all over Sunday's game in Detroit

Vikings Insider: Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has closed 11 trades in his first year in Minnesota; two will be on display Sunday in Detroit.
A win over the Patriots on Thanksgiving night quieted some of the questions about quarterback Kirk Cousins’ grit.

What did the Vikings learn from their 4-1 stretch vs. winning teams?

The Vikings went 4-1 against Washington, Buffalo, Dallas, New England and the New York Jets to refute some of the questions about how good they really are.
Adam Thielen and his wife, Caitlin, at the Vikings’ reception honoring Thielen on Monday.

Thielen is Vikings' 2022 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee

Thielen's foundation has donated more than $2.5 million to Twin Cities organizations since it started in 2018.
The Jets pass rush caught up to Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins several times in the third quarter Sunday.

Vikings puzzle over third-quarter woes plaguing offense all season

The Vikings ran 12 plays in the third quarter that netted a total of 10 yards against the Jets. Coming out strong after halftime has been an issue in nearly every game.
Vikings safety Camryn Bynum intercepted a pass intended for Jets wide receiver Corey Davis to end  Sunday’s game at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Escape artists: Vikings perform more last-minute magic to beat Jets

Up by five points and protecting their end zone, safety Camryn Bynum added his name to a list of Vikings bonded by good fortune or shrewd operation — or a combination of the two.
Patrick Peterson is the only one of the 53 defensive backs in his draft class still in the NFL.

On the menu at Peterson's home: Wisdom for younger Vikings teammates

In the middle of a resurgent season, 32-year-old Patrick Peterson holds weekly film reviews with his young teammates, hoping to leave the game better than he found it.