The Minnesota Vikings defeated the Denver Broncos on Saturday night, 42-28 nearly completing the first full week of preseason action in the NFL.
PFF’s ReFocused series this season features immediate takeaways and a key to the victory from two Senior Analysts who graded the performance, watching every player, on every play of the game. For more data and analysis from the game, utilize our Premium Stats 2.0 dashboard to expand your knowledge on the key players, signature stats and much more.
Minnesota Vikings 42, Denver Broncos 28
Kirk Cousins looked sharp in his Vikings debut, connecting on all four of his attempts, including a big throw to beat tight coverage on Diggs down the right sideline to set up the first score of the game.
Despite the overall success of the offense, it was a rough night for much of Minnesota’s reserve offensive linemen. This was particularly true in the run game where penetration, missed assignments, and tackles in the backfield were frequent occurrences.
Mike Hughes had an encouraging debut for the Vikings. The first-round cornerback made a nice tackle for no gain in the flat on a screen pass, had a stop in run defense and didn’t allow a reception in coverage.
A bit of a roller coaster of a game for defensive back Jack Tocho, who’s likely competing for a roster spot. Tocho broke up a Paxton Lynch pass in the first quarter that ended up being intercepted off of his deflection. He also intercepted a Chad Kelly pass in the fourth quarter, and ended the game by breaking up a pass in the end zone. The blemish on Tocho’s night came in the fourth quarter when Phillip Lindsay was able to put the burners on to run away from Tocho in coverage en route to a Broncos touchdown.
It was a quiet debut for new Broncos quarterback, Case Keenum. The former Viking led the Broncos on two drives, totaling seven plays and failed to lead Denver to a first down before they called it a night for him. Keenum completed just one of four pass attempts, and while one of those incompletions was a drop, the other two were a result of inaccurate passes.
Rookie running back Royce Freeman had his struggles early on, dropping a third-down pass in the first quarter one play after giving up some pressure in pass protection. He made up for it with an electric 23-yard touchdown run in the second quarter though, injecting some much-needed life into a Broncos offense that had not picked up a first down up to that point. Freeman showed some nice burst through the line of scrimmage and then was able to dance around some poor angles from the Vikings secondary defenders to march into the end zone.
Darian Stewart was the standout early on for the Broncos defense, making multiple tackles near the line of scrimmage in the run game and breaking up a short throw all on the first two Vikings possessions.
Denver’s defensive line largely had their way up front, particularly once Minnesota’s starters called it a night. Shelby Harris was especially impressive, notching multiple wins rushing the passer and batting down a throw at the line of scrimmage.
KEY TO THE GAME
Minnesota: All three Vikings quarterbacks played well on the night, putting the ball in harm’s way only once and consistently taking advantage of the opportunities afforded to them. That was ultimately enough for them to sustain drives and put points on the board despite an underwhelming performance up front.
Denver: It took six drives for Denver to end a drive in something other than a three and out or turnover. Both Keenum and Lynch struggled to get anything going for the Broncos on Saturday night, trapping the Broncos in a hole that was ultimately too much to overcome.