Aug 28, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon (28) carries the ball to score a touchdown past Minnesota Vikings cornerback Terence Newman (23) in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
The Minnesota Vikings debuted their new stadium Sunday morning, hosting the San Diego Chargers. Although there were some good plays, and some positives takeaways, the Chargers eventually fell short 23-10.
Run defense looked a little suspect, giving up 122 rushing yards after holding the Arizona Cardinals to just 63 last week. The secondary looked poor, allowing opposing quarterbacks to expose them, and pick them apart all day. However, Brandon Mebane, Jahleel Addae and Jatavis Brown all sat out of the contest, so it is difficult to gauge the severity.
The Minnesota Vikings took an early 3-0 lead after the Vikings composed a drive deep into Chargers territory. This drive was highlighted by a 35-yard Jerick McKinnon run, and capped by a 23-yard field goal by Blair Walsh. On the ensuing Charger drive, Philip Rivers tried to complete a pass to Kennan Allen, who was unable to pull the ball in, and Rivers was intercepted by safety Harrison Smith. After a decent drive deep into Chargers territory, Blair Walsh was called upon for another short field goal, putting the Vikings up 6-0, after being stopped short by the Chargers red-zone defense.
The Chargers offense finally seemed to get in sync during their third drive of the game. Rivers orchestrated an impressive drive that was capped off by a 39-yard touchdown run by Melvin Gordon. Rivers read the defenses blitz, and elected to audible to a run play. This allowed Gordon to blow through a gaping hole in the defense, and show his blazing speed to put the Chargers ahead 7-6.
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Canadian Football League veteran Dexter McCoil is trying his hardest to make the final 53-man roster, while stepping in for Jahleel Addae, he stripped Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph. Jason Verrett recovered the fumble which eventually led to a Josh Lambo field goal to put the Chargers up 10-6. The remainder of the game was discouraging with very few bright spots. With a mix of turnovers, poor production, and injuries, nothing seemed to go right for the Chargers.
Teddy Bridgewater and company put together some impressive drives, one in which Bridgewater connected with Rudolph on a deep pass, who in turn muscled his way into the end zone to put the Vikings back on top 12-10. The Vikings elected to go for a two-point conversion, but fell short.
Backup Chargers quarterback Kellen Clemens was stripped and the ball was recovered by the Vikings deep in Chargers territory. The Vikings capitalized off that turnover when Mycole Pruitt pulled in a short pass from Shaun Hill. After the catch, Pruitt fumbled the ball, giving the Chargers hope. However the ball was recovered in the end zone by Cordarrelle Patterson, and after a successful two-point conversion the Vikings were up 20-10.
The Chargers defense showed promise. Outside linebacker Ben Gardner sacked Vikings quarterback Joel Stave who fumbled the ball, and the Vikings were forced to punt. In the closing minutes of the third quarter, nose tackle Chuka Ndulue also hit Stave, causing another fumble that was recovered by tight end Matt Weiser. However, the Chargers could not capitalize.
After a defensive stop where Richard Crawford defended a pass at the goal line, Blair Walsh was called on again and hit a 23-yard field goal, putting the Vikings up 23-10. Undrafted rookie Mike Bercovici closed out the game, solidifying his depth chart jump over Zach Mettenberger who did not see the field for the second week in a row. However, Bercovici ended the contest with two interceptions, not making a strong case for the Chargers to keep him on the final 53-man roster.
-Melvin Gordon has had a good preseason. Today, Gordon had 4 attempts for 51 yards, averaging 12.8 yards and one touchdown.
-Sixth-round draft pick Drew Kaser continues to impress, placing three punts inside the opponent’s 10-yard line.
-The defense continues to cause turnovers.
-Run defense looks mediocre, allowing 122 rush yards without the presence of perennial Pro Bowler Adrian Peterson.
-Pass defense looked terrible, allowing backups Joel Stave, and Shaun Hill passer ratings of 112.5, and Teddy Bridgewater a 127.3 passer rating.
-Fan favorite Branden Oliver was carted off the field after tearing his Achilles, and it has been reported that he may miss the season.
-Offensive tackle Joe Barksdale walked off the field after an apparent ankle injury, and did not return.