With Cousins early, Sloter late, Vikings top Seahawks 21-20
Kirk Cousins was bothered enough by the throws he missed in Minnesota’s third preseason game that he brought a piece of paper with a list of them to the podium for his interview afterward.
There’s a long way to go, particularly with an offensive line that’s not yet set, but Cousins and the Vikings made some improvements against Seattle.
Cousins passed for 182 yards without a turnover in the first half, before third-stringer Kyle Sloter threw for two fourth-quarter touchdowns in a 21-20 comeback victory over the Seahawks on Friday night.
Out of sync in their previous game, the Vikings assembled three drives of 12 or more plays despite some disruptions by the Seahawks. Cousins went 17 for 28.
“You could’ve really had a great night. I feel like we just missed that,” Cousins said.
Sebastian Janikowski didn’t miss. The 40-year-old kicked field goals from 35 and 55 yards in the first half for the Seahawks, who kept their starters in past halftime. Russell Wilson led one scoring drive against the vaunted Vikings defense, finishing 11 for 21 for 118 yards and declaring his work-in-progress offensive line a success.
“I had all day,” Wilson said.
Vikings rookie Daniel Carlson, who just won the kicker job this week when seventh-year veteran Kai Forbath was released, pulled two 42-yard field goal attempts wide left in the first half. Following the first miss, Latavius Murray‘s touchdown run capped the second drive. Then coach Mike Zimmer ordered a 2-point conversion.
“Just to let him know that if he’s going to miss `em, I’m going to go for 2,” Zimmer said.
The mention of wide left against the Seahawks still makes Vikings fans wince, three seasons after Blair Walsh’s 27-yard miss at the end of the playoff game on that below-zero afternoon in Minnesota. Walsh spent last year with Seattle, struggled anew and was not brought back. The 40-year-old Janikowski, having edged out Jason Myers for the job, has taken over.
“I’d rather kick the short ones and hit a lot of extra points, but if it comes down to it I’m excited and looking forward to it,” Janikowski said.
CONFIDENCE IN CARLSON
Zimmer noted that Carlson, a fifth-round draft pick from Auburn, only missed a couple of kicks in practices since training camp started. The coach actually expressed more concern about the kick coverage teams, which have allowed long returns in each exhibition game.
“Put this behind me,” Carlson said, “but learn from it and move on.”
Rookie punter Michael Dickson, who beat out stalwart Jon Ryan this week, was just as sharp as Janikowski. His five punts averaged 53.6 yards per attempt, with a long of 61 yards and two times downed at the 3.
“I’m really fired up about that,” coach Pete Carroll said.
Chris Carson carried seven times for 26 yards and a touchdown and caught two passes for 20 yards for the Seahawks, who are trying to regenerate the power running attack that helped them reach two straight Super Bowls. Rookie Rashaad Penny, who’s also expected to factor heavily in the ground game this season, broke his finger in practice last week and did not play.
The defense, which is undergoing a more significant renovation with Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman all moved on. The Seahawks are at least set at linebacker with Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright.
Wagner sacked Cousins for what would’ve been a 13-yard loss on third-and-goal at the 5, but Shaquill Griffin was called for holding Stefon Diggs during the play. Wright delivered a jarring shoulder tackle on Diggs, who was targeted eight times. Newcomer Barkevious Mingo delivered his share of blows in the first half, too.
“I thought we played with good juice tonight,” Carroll said. “I like the way that we’re learning to hit.”
Murray took over for Dalvin Cook, who had two carries on the first drive to complete his recovery from reconstructive knee surgery last season.
“I got in, I got banged up a little bit, got that out of the way,” Cook said. “Now it’s just time for everybody to know I can play football.”
BACKUPS COME UP BIG
For the Vikings, Sloter’s touchdowns went to Jake Weineke and Chad Beebe , before the go-ahead 2-point conversion completion to Weineke again. Weineke is a Minnesota native, undrafted from South Dakota State. Beebe, from Northern Illinois, is the son of former Buffalo folk hero Don Beebe.
Three Seahawks players continued their practice of leaving the field during the singing of the “The Star-Spangled Banner” and returning shortly after: offensive tackle Duane Brown, defensive end Branden Jackson and defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson.
Seahawks: Fourteen injured players were listed on the inactive list, including WR Doug Baldwin (knee), CB Byron Maxwell (ankle) and SS Bradley McDougald (pectoral). Baldwin and Maxwell have been out the whole preseason. FS Tedric Thompson hurt his ribs during a first-quarter tackle, Carroll said, but he returned.
Vikings: Nine injured players were listed on the did-not-dress list, including DE Everson Griffen (lower leg), CB Mackensie Alexander (ankle) and C Pat Elflein(ankle/shoulder). Diggs immediately went to the sideline with some apparent discomfort after the collision with Wright, but he came back.
The Seahawks host Oakland in their final exhibition game on Thursday.
The Vikings play at Tennessee to wrap up the preseason slate on Thursday.
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