The Minnesota Vikings played their third dress rehearsal of the 2019 season Saturday when they hosted the Arizona Cardinals. In the only afternoon game of the day in the NFL, Minnesota improved to 3-0 on the preseason in a 20-9 win.

Both offenses started off slow in the first quarter. The Cardinals chipped in a short field goal early, but it wasn’t until more than halfway through the quarter that Dalvin Cook provided the game’s first firework in an 85-yard touchdown run. It was the longest preseason touchdown rush in Vikings history — Cook cut back to the right and found a huge hole to get to the open field, high-stepped past a few final diving arms and then cruised to the end zone. 

The Vikings offense didn’t do much of anything outside of Cook’s run in the first half, especially through the air. Kirk Cousins felt consistent pressure in the backfield, and ended up only 3-13 for 35 yards as a result. Arizona also got in for two first half sacks on Cousins.

Luckily, the Minnesota defense kept the Vikings in the game, despite an impressive performance from Cardinals’ rookie quarterback Kyler Murray. The No. 1 overall pick went 14-21 for 131 yards, but couldn’t finish off 54, 55 and 46 yard drives through the first half. Minnesota bent but didn’t break, and only allowed three Zane Gonzalez field goals after letting Arizona get inside its 30-yard line on all three drives. The Vikings trailed 9-7 at the half, which ended the day for the starters. 

In the second half, Mike Boone and Olabisi Johnson stuck out in a crowd of backups. Boone broke out a 20-yard run near the end of the third off the right side of the line, and Johnson started a fourth-quarter drive with a 22-yard catch which included a nice move to get by his corner and get extra yards on the back end. Later in that drive, Boone pushed through the middle on a seven-yard touchdown run which gave Minnesota the lead. Johnson nearly followed that run up with a toe-tapping two-point conversion grab on the right sideline, but officials ruled him out of bounds and stuck with that call after review.

Minnesota kept the lead for good after that 80-yard touchdown drive in the fourth, as the Vikings’ defense didn’t allow the Cardinals to move past the Minnesota 40 the entire half. In the backup quarterback competition, Sean Mannion went 6-9 for 57 yards before Kyle Sloter finished the game with a strong performance: 6-7 for 102 and a 15-yard touchdown pass to Khari Blasingame with less than a minute to play. The final touchdown brought the score to 20-9, also the final.

Minnesota has a short week now, traveling to Buffalo for a final Thursday night tuneup against the Bills. The regular season kicks off September 8 at noon against the Falcons.

Posted: Nate Dickinson