NFL preseason: Vikings’ offense looks good in win over Saints; Josh Dobbs, Mason Rudolph lead Steelers in win
Kirk Cousins was flawless in his lone series in Minnesota’s new offensive scheme, backup Sean Mannion delivered a scoring pass under a heavy rush, and the Vikings defeated New Orleans 34-25 in the preseason opener for both clubs on Friday night.
The game marked the Vikings’ first test of their new offense directed by coordinator Kevin Stefanski and influenced by adviser Gary Kubiak. It looked effective for the lone series in which the first-team offense played.
Cousins drove the Vikings 81 yards in eight plays, completing all four passes for 65 yards. Cousins connected on a pair of short passes before finding Adam Thielen for 35 yards down the right side, setting up a 1-yard scoring pass to third-round draft choice Alexander Mattison.
Mannion was 7 of 13 for 102 yards, highlighted by his 18-yard touchdown pass to rookie Olabisi Johnson as Saints defensive end Trey Hendrickson bolted into the backfield and hit the backup QB. Johnson, a seventh-round draft pick and a candidate for Minnesota’s No. 3 receiver, made the catch while leaping and reaching back over the shoulders of veteran defensive back Patrick Robinson to bring in the ball.
With Saints record-setting QB Drew Brees getting the night off, ex-Viking Teddy Bridgewater started. He played throughout the first half, completing 14 of 19 passes for 134 yards and one touchdown on an 18-yard pass to tight end Dan Arnold.
But Arnold essentially gave that score right back early in the second half when he was unable to secure a pass from Taysom Hill and the ball squirted straight into the arms of defensive back Nate Meadors, who easily returned his interception 30 yards for a touchdown.
Hill played throughout the second half, going 8 of 14 for 80 yards and one touchdown on Lil’Jordan Humphrey’s 33-yard, tackle-breaking catch and run.
Vikings second-year running back Mike Boone broke loose for a 64-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that put Minnesota up 34-25.
STEELERS 30, BUCCANEERS 28
Josh Dobbs and Mason Rudolph led the offense on four scoring drives.
Two-time Super Bowl winner Ben Roethlisberger gave way to recent draft picks Dobbs and Rudolph to battle for the backup quarterback job.
Jameis Winston led the Bucs’ first-team offense to a touchdown in his only offensive series against a Steelers defense that featured few regulars.
Dobbs started and played two series, going 5 of 8 for 85 yards and throwing an interception that was nullified because of offsetting penalties. Dobbs, a fourth-round draft pick in 2017, also had two third-down scrambles for 44 yards, including a 36-yarder that set up a 33-yard field goal by Chris Boswell.
Rudolph entered on the third series and played into the third quarter. He finished 5 of 8 for 91 yards and two touchdowns.
Rudolph, the Steelers’ third-round pick in 2018, completed all three attempts during his first series, including an 8-yard touchdown to James Washington, his college teammate at Oklahoma State. In the third quarter, a 59-yard catch-and-run by Johnny Holton set up a 3-yard score to Zach Gentry, the Steelers’ fifth-round pick.
Bruce Arians coached his first game for the Buccaneers, and he did it where he was an assistant coach from 2004-11, winning two Super Bowls. Arians, back on the sideline after a year of retirement, coached in Arizona for five seasons and, while in Pittsburgh, helped develop Roethlisberger into one of the league’s top quarterbacks.
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