The first game of the NFL season is officially over, with the Minnesota Vikings defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 14-3.
By Jordan Wright
The Viking’s first team offense failed to put up any points on it’s one and only drive of the game, but they did move the ball down the field effectively. On the other side of the ball, the Viking’s first team defense did an excellent job of shutting down the Steeler’s offense, but that was to be expected considering the Steelers had most of their starters sit this game, including Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and Heath Miller.
There were many Vikings who had solid performances, but there were a few who really jumped out at me. Teddy Bridgewater had an excellent game, going five of six for 44 yards. Bridgewater looked fully in control of the game and even though it was only the first series of the first game of the preseason, there should be no doubts about his ability to be a big time quarterback in this league.
Kyle Rudolph was looking like his former Pro Bowl MVP self, catching two passes for 11 yards. If Kyle can stay healthy, he will be a reliable target for Bridgewater in the intermediate range.
After the first series, the backups took the field and there was no doubt this was a preseason game. Both teams had some sloppy play and head scratching moments, although there were a few plays and players that stood out among the chaos. Danielle Hunter showed a lot of flashes, routinely blowing by the offensive tackle and creating havoc in the Steelers’ backfield. He reminds me a lot of Everson Griffen, as they both have tons of potential but could take a couple years before they are able to fully take advantage of it.
Gerald Hodges was another young defensive player who was always around the ball Sunday night. Hodges figures to be the Viking’s primary backup linebacker who could see plenty of snaps this season and could be in line to take Greenway’s spot in a couple years.
Tom Johnson racked up one of the Viking’s only two sacks, and was constantly making plays in the Steelers’ backfield. Johnson is another player who, like Hodges, is a primary backup and should see plenty of snaps this season.
Stefon Diggs really showed off his athleticism on his punt returns, returning two punts for 69 yards and a touchdown (I know, the refs called him down at the three yard line, but after watching the replay it was clear to me Diggs stayed in bounds and it should have counted as a touchdown). Marcus Sherels has to be looking over his shoulder, because his only value to this team is his punt returning ability and if Diggs can produce similar numbers, Sherels will be gone.
Player of the game:
Eric Sugarman, Head Athletic Trainer for the Minnesota Vikings. The most important things with preseason games is to get out of them relatively unscathed, and that’s just what the Vikings did. Major props to Sugarman and his staff for getting the players ready and helping to avoid any injuries.
The Vikings will be at home next Saturday, August 15 to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This will be the Bucs’ first preseason game, and America’s first chance to get a look at the number one overall pick Jameis Winston. This game will be a great matchup for the Vikings’ secondary, having to match up against Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, two wide receivers who stand 6-feet 5-inches tall. I don’t anticipate the Viking’s starters playing much more than they did tonight, which will give the coaching staff more time to evaluate players such as Trae Waynes, who struggled (as expected) this past game.
If you have any questions or comments, I encourage you to reach out to me on Twitter (@SkolJWright) or on Facebook (facebook. com/skoljwright).