The Vikings End the Preseason Winless after Falling 23-13 in Denver
The Minnesota Vikings traveled to Denver and took on the Broncos on Saturday in Week 3 of the preseason, marking the end of their exhibition schedule. Ultimately, the Vikings fell once again in this game, 23-13, giving them an 0-3 record during the 2022 preseason. It was their seventh consecutive preseason loss.
Early on, the game looked very similar to the matchup with the 49ers just a week earlier in that defense reigned supreme. The first quarter ended in a 0-0 stalemate largely because of a Brett Rypien pass on the Vikings goal line that was tipped into the air by Myles Dorn and intercepted by Luiji Vilain. Overall, Rypien played well against the Vikes, completing 14 of 21 passes for 137 yards.
On the other side, it was the usual outline for the Vikings quarterbacks. Despite acquiring Nick Mullens earlier in the week, the Vikings opted to start Sean Mannion, who played the entirety of the first half. Kellen Mond followed by playing the second half. As was the case in the game against the Niners, both QBs struggled to move the ball for much of the game.
Mannion was on the field for the Vikings sole touchdown drive, which came after Denver finally broke the scoring barrier with a 50-yard field goal from Brandon McManus, but that score was sparked by a 25-yard scamper from RB Ty Chandler. Then, on his fourth attempt to punch the ball into the endzone, it was UDFA Bryant Koback who put the Vikings up 7-3 midway through the second quarter.
The lead did not last long as the Broncos immediately put together a 70-yard touchdown drive of their own, with the highlight play being a 45-yard connection between Rypien and WR Seth Williams. With a 10-7 score in favor of the Broncos, the two teams swapped punts on their next two drives before Mannion was strip-sacked on Minnesota’s 28-yard line by McTelvin Agim. Baron Browning scooped up the fumble and took it to the house, ballooning Denver’s lead to 17-7. The Vikings would add on a Greg Joseph field goal at the end of the half to cut the deficit down to 17-10.
The second half was a series of punts with three field goals intermixed to give us our final score of 23-13. While this ultimately provided a slow football product, it gave Vikings fans a chance to see their new punter, Ryan Wright. It may not have been an official “punt-off” after Minnesota released Jordan Berry earlier this week, but Wright put on a show anyway. He punted four times, pinning the Broncos inside their own 10 on three of them and hitting another 71-yarder that traveled into the end zone. As Joseph’s holder in the kicking game, the Vikings star kicker went 3/3 on field goals too, including a 58-yard make.
Ultimately though, the biggest takeaway from this game is the number of injuries that the Vikings sustained. On the defensive side of the ball, Brian Asamoah, Troy Dye, T.Y. McGill, and Josh Metellus all left the game at some point with injuries.
Among the injuries though, the most serious appear to be in the wide receiver room. Jalen Nailor suffered a concussion while Bisi Johnson went down with a knee injury that Kevin O’Connell could only describe as one that “did not look good”.
Johnson’s injury in particular is worrying because he missed the entire 2021 season with a torn ACL. Heading into the regular season just 13 days from now, he looked to be in the mix for the WR5 spot behind the Jefferson/Osborn/ISM/Thielen crew. For Johnson’s sake, hopefully the injury isn’t as serious as O’Connell made it sound. Rosters must be cut down from 80 players to 53 by Tuesday afternoon, so the Vikings have some difficult decisions to make in the next 48 hours.