CINCINNATI – Entering Saturday's 27-24 overtime loss to the Bengals, the pass-happy Vikings, led by former quarterback Kevin O'Connell, averaged more throws per game than any NFL team this season.

Despite missing starting running back Alexander Mattison, who did not play because of a sprained ankle, the Vikings tried to stay grounded for new quarterback Nick Mullens.

Second-year running back Ty Chandler replaced Mattison and turned his first NFL start into a career-high 23 carries, a career-high 132 rushing yards and his second NFL touchdown. Chandler's 132 rushing yards are the most rushing yards by a single player in two seasons under O'Connell.

Mullens attempted just three passes during an opening 12-play scoring drive that ended with Chandler's 1-yard touchdown run.

"He's got some juice," center Garrett Bradbury said. "That first drive of the game felt awesome. We came off the sideline like, 'Come on, let's do that all day.' "

Chandler consistently wove through an interior Bengals defense that lost 335-pound nose tackle D.J. Reader to a knee injury in the first quarter. His "juice," as Bradbury put it, showed on big runs for 24 and 30 yards in the second half. Only the Chiefs' Isiah Pacheco and Patriots' Pierre Strong Jr. ran faster than Chandler's 4.38-second 40-yard dash during the 2022 NFL scouting combine.

"Made a great cut on the long [30-yard] run to get us down there for the last touchdown," O'Connell said. "He's finding it. He's seeing it. He's getting better and better. He made some really nice protection pickups on those play[-action] passes as well. Huge growth day from him."

Chandler, the 2022 fifth-round pick, said he had no nerves before his first NFL start. He handled 23 of 24 carries given to Vikings running backs.

"Grateful I was able to seize the moment," he said. "Hate we didn't get the win."

The 25-year-old Chandler also passed the challenge from special teams coach Matt Daniels, who kept Chandler as the punt-team protector despite the increased workload on offense.

"[Daniels] said we got to make sure we got a good lactate threshold," Chandler said through a laugh. "Got to make sure those legs are ready to run."

Hunter producing in 'playoff' atmosphere

Edge rusher Danielle Hunter continued to climb the rankings with two sacks on Bengals quarterback Jake Browning, pushing his season total up to 15.5 sacks — a career best. With the first sack in Cincinnati, Hunter surpassed 14 sacks to unlock the final $1 million bonus written into his contract. The second gave Hunter 86.5 sacks, which moved him past former Vikings edge rusher Jared Allen (85.5) for sixth in franchise history.

"That felt like a playoff game," Hunter said. "That's a great football team."

The Vikings sacked Browning five times but allowed 324 passing yards — the most surrendered by Minnesota since the Sept. 24 loss to the Chargers.


  • The Bengals had multiple stoppages for medical evaluations. In addition to Reader, the Bengals also lost receiver Ja'Marr Chase (shoulder), cornerback D.J. Ivey (knee), right guard Alex Cappa (undisclosed) and receiver Charlie Jones (undisclosed) to injuries.
  • Vikings defensive tackle Jonathan Bullard injured his right ankle in the third quarter but returned to the game. The Vikings ruled out right tackle Brian O'Neill (ankle), Mattison and receiver Jalen Nailor (concussion) on Thursday.