Vikings rally after storm delay, top Raiders 20-12
Aug. 23, 2015
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Charles Johnson and Chase Ford each caught touchdown passes in the second quarter for the Minnesota Vikings, who came back from an hour-plus weather delay to defeat the Oakland Raiders 20-12 on Saturday.
Teddy Bridgewater finished 10 for 14 for 89 yards, including the crisp 10-yard throw into Johnson's outstretched hands in close coverage to finish the third drive by Minnesota's starters. In three exhibition games, Bridgewater is 22 for 28 for 219 yards and no turnovers. Some of his early passes sailed high, but he settled in and again found a rhythm with his receivers.
Johnson had four catches for 40 yards.
"He's a huge threat, a guy that size (6-foot-2, 217) who can run," Bridgewater said. "He's very physical also. We like to get him on mismatches, and we had one tonight and it ended up being a touchdown."
Derek Carr, the other member of the NFL's 2014 quarterback class who started to hit his stride in his first year on the job, completed half of his eight passes. But he had the throw of the night, a beautiful back-shoulder fade to rookie Amari Cooper for a 40-yard gain.
That set up a short touchdown run by Latavius Murray, who finished with 20 yards on four carries and is in line to be the featured back.
Observations from the game:
The first wave of the thunderstorm interrupted pregame warmups, leaving the stadium strangely empty until about a half-hour prior to kickoff. The game began on time, but with 6:45 left in the second quarter lightning lit up the darkened sky, suspending play and sending everyone scurrying for cover. Fans were ordered to evacuate to the basketball and hockey arenas across the street on the University of Minnesota campus.
Vikings kicker Blair Walsh, who got a four-year contract extension featuring $5.25 million guaranteed last month, was reeling on the wet, windy night. His 35-yard field goal try in the first quarter went wide right, as did his extra point attempt from the same distance in the second quarter. He made his next two extra points, including a penalty-pushed 43-yard try. But then he pulled a 38-yard field goal attempt wide left and a 49-yard try wide right.
"I have to do better," Walsh said. "Preseason or regular season, that cannot happen and I know that."
Christian Ponder's return to Minnesota was met with some boos. He laughed them off.
"I was prepared for it so it didn't really affect me," said Ponder, who finished 7 for 11 for 69 yards and no turnovers in relief of Carr. "I made it kind of fun coming back. It was good to see a lot of the guys and reconnect with them."
Ponder, the 2011 first-round draft pick, lost the starting job in 2013 to Matt Cassel and eventually to Bridgewater.
The Raiders were penalized 13 times for 106 yards.
"Clearly not the kind of clean performance we're looking for," Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said.
One of those flags was an illegal contact call on cornerback D.J. Hayden during a third-down incompletion, giving the Vikings a first down. Johnson caught most of his passes on Hayden, including the touchdown and an 11-yard gain on fourth-and-6 that prompted Hayden to hit his helmet with both hands in frustration.
Raiders: Michael Dyer, undrafted out of Louisville, rushed 12 times for 45 yards.
Vikings: Eric Kendricks, in a three-way competition at middle linebacker, started with the first team.
Shaun Hill threw the touchdown pass to Ford, but was intercepted by Jonathan Dowling when Cordarrelle Patterson appeared to run the wrong route. Third-string quarterback Taylor Heinecke lost a fumble while being sacked by Ben Heeney and Mario Edwards.
Ford had the catch of the night, a 4-yard pass over the middle he grabbed as Brandian Ross delivered a head-first, jarring hit that knocked the third-year tight end on his back. Ford hung on, and Ross got a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty for hitting a defenseless receiver.
Raiders: Carr, on Cooper: "The guy is smart beyond his years when it comes to route running."
Vikings: Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, asked whether Patterson, ran the wrong route: "Probably, if you were a betting man."
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