It was the beginning of the end as Minnesota Vikings fans entered Mall of America Field on August 9, 2013 to watch the Minnesota Vikings take on the Houston Texans in preseason game one of the 2013 NFL season. The Metrodome, now Mall of America Field, has been the home of the Vikings since 1982 and is scheduled to be demolished at the end of the 2013 NFL season to make way for a new $975 million dollar stadium complex that is anticipated to open in time for the 2016 NFL season.
For the Minnesota Vikings, the most important key to the game was the clichéd avoid injury. As important as avoiding injury is giving the second and third team valuable playing time allowing coaches to evaluate the players as roster reductions loom.
The first team offense, much of it anyway as notable absences included Adrian Peterson and John Sullivan among others, started the game on fire…for two plays. The game’s opening kickoff saw rookie Cordarrelle Patterson break loose for a 50 yard kickoff return. The crowd was electric with anticipation. The second play was a short pass over the middle from quarterback Christian Ponder to receiver Jerome Simpson.
It was the third play of the game that gave fans a reason to be concerned. Ponder found Jerome Simpson in traffic. The throw was a bit high and behind the receiver. Simpson got a hand on the ball but could not bring it in as the ball found its way into the arms of Shiloh Keo of the Texans. The Texans could not fully capitalize on the turnover and had to settle for a field goal. The Vikings tied the game later in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, scoring was started by the Vikings as backup QB Matt Cassel found Zach Line on a short pass that Line turned into a 61 yard touchdown scamper behind some great blocking down field by Stephen Burton to make the score 10-3 Vikings.
The Vikings would add three more points in the second quarter but would be shut out for the rest of the game while allowing the Texans to score the final 17 points in the game. The Vikings start the preseason schedule 0-1 but have several positive points to build on for next week.
The three takeaways we came out of the first preseason game with are:
- Cordarrelle Patterson could be the real deal. One preseason game does not a star make, that said, the rookie made explosive plays on both offense and kickoff return and showed he is capable of producing the all-important yards after catch.
- It is going to be a quarterback battle for all 3+1 quarterbacks on the team. Ponder did not really see much play and Cassel, who saw the majority of first and second quarter plays, did quite well. The third string quarterback is where the big battle will be. Joe Webb, who has played quarterback his whole NFL career, has switched to receiver. McLeod Bethel-Thompson made Webb look very good with his pass placement. Could the Vikings be forced to cue either Web or Bethel-Thompson? If Webb can be a utility player do they need a true backup quarterback?
- Stephen Burton looked great. Burton made a key block on the 61 yard touchdown by Line, opening up a seam for Line to walk into the end zone with a heads-up down field block. Watch for Burton this year.
Weeping and gnashing of teeth should not be the reaction to the 27-13 loss. A team never wants to lose but keep in mind that almost all the Vikings top rated players did not see the field and those who did see the field were gone after just three plays. Stay tuned to Examiner.com and The Minnesota Sports Report for continued Vikings coverage throughout the season. This article originally was published to Examiner.com and can be viewed here.
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