The 2013 NFL preseason has been a bleak and discouraging affair for Minnesota Vikings’ fans, players and management. The team entered the August 29th final preseason game against the Tennessee Titans 0-3 in the 2013 NFL Preseason. In the final week of August, 2013 the team traveled to San Francisco for a Sunday Night Football game and traveled back to Minneapolis for a Thursday game against the Titans to close out the 2013 preseason.
As the team prepared for the Tennessee Titans it was no secret that Minnesota Vikings’ starters would not be available for the game. To the dismay of some Vikings fans the list of inactive players included QB Christian Ponder, who, despite being named the starting quarterback has yet to convince fans that he is up to the job. Ponder had flashes of brilliance in the last four games of the Vikings’ 2012 has yet to convince some fans that he is up to the job. Fans were hoping that Ponder could get some more reps in the preseason.
The Titans received the opening kickoff from second year kicker Blaire Walsh, who sent the ball out of the back of the end zone. The Titans, starting from their 20 yard line, went to work methodically driving down the field. The 18 play drive ended in a 28 yard field goal that put Titans up 3-0.
Minnesota responded by driving 80 yards for a touchdown in a drive. Matt Asiata was given the ball on eight of the 11 plays and scored the touchdown, shooting past the Titans’ defensive line to score on a one yard run.
The activity in the second quarter was stopped for 10-15 minutes while the medical team secured guard Seth Olsen to a stretcher after he took a knee to the head from Scott Solomon, linebacker for the Titans. After a trip to the hospital it was determined that the injury was “fortunately” just a concussion.
In a strange coincidence, on a day when the NFL settled a concussion lawsuit by former players for $765 million, Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier had this to say about the incident “I think you could see all of our guys getting on their knee and just praying for him and just hoping for the best…they bring that stretcher out, you have no idea what’s going on. So we were all just hoping for the best and fortunately things worked out that way.”
At the half, the Titans led 17-14.
Vikings’ cornerback Marcus Sherels took opening kickoff of the second half nine yards in the end zone and decided to run it back. Sprinting through the Titans’ defenders he broke loose midfield. Joe Webb threw the decisive block that allowed Sherels to reach the end zone. Sherels also picked up an interception at the in the third minute of the third quarter, earning him our player of the game honors.
At the end of the fourth quarter, McCloud Bethel-Thompson took over the ball, first and 10 on the Vikings 22 with 3:55 left in the game, with the score Tennessee 23, Minnesota 21. Bethel-Thompson completed three straight passes to three different receivers, driving 48 yards. Joe Banyard (released from the team on 8/31/13) took the handoff for the next four plays advancing the ball 23 yards, to the Titans’ 7 yard line.
Kicker Blaire Walsh came out onto the field to a pensive crowd (he missed a 42 yard field goal in the third quarter) waited to see which kicker would show up. Walsh delivered when the game was on the line and split the uprights putting the Vikings up by one point at 24-23 with 1:41 left in the game.
The Vikings kicked the ball off to the Titans with 47 seconds left in the game. Vikings’ rookie DE Collins Ukwu (released 8/31/13) forced and recovered a fumble. With no more time outs the Vikings took a knee and the game was over.
The Vikings won the game 24-23. With the win the Vikings escape a winless preseason with a 1-4 record. The team has much to prove in the regular season but the team fans saw in the preseason is not the team that will take the field to open the regular season in Detroit on September 7. They will have their starters all playing together for the first time this year.
The Minnesota Vikings will be visiting the Detroit Lions on September 7, 2013 to open the regular season. Stay tuned to ventwing.com and The Minnesota Sports Report for Minnesota Sports News.