The San Diego Chargers may have put together a hodge-podge of offensive pieces that didn't include starting quarterback Philip Rivers or tight end Antonio Gates. The Vikings defense took advantage holding the Chargers to just four field goals in the game. The offense couldn't back the defense and struggled with turnovers and early execution in the 12-10 loss at Mall of America Field.
"When we get the ball first in a game it's always important for us to set the tone," said quarterback Christian Ponder. "Not only did we go three and out on the first drive, but on the second drive as well."
Ponder who was sacked five times in the game including three in the first half felt he was partially to blame for the pressure.
"I was getting back on the top of my drop and just sitting there," said the second year quarterback. "That puts a lot of pressure on our (offensive) tackles. I could do a lot better job of stepping up, moving forward. I've got to get better in the pocket."
Ponder finished the game 9-for-16, 115 yards and an interception.
On the flipside, the defense sacked Chargers quarterbacks six times in the game and the front seven looked dominant as expected against the Chargers reserves.
"I think we did what we were supposed to do tonight," said Jared Allen. "They had a lot of their young guys playing because they were so beat up. If you are going up against the backups, you should dominate. We held them to no touchdowns, minus the 15 play drive, I thought everything else was pretty good."
Middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley had his best game as a pro, recording four tackles and two sacks in the game. Brinkley tied Allen for the lead in both categories for the game.
"Our first defense played extremely hard," said head coach Leslie Frazier. "They kept us in the game. Didn't come up with the turnovers that we would like. But I thought our first unit did everything that we asked."
As the team looks for a player to step into the third running back role, all three in the mix lost fumbles in the game. Lex Hilliard, Derrick Coleman and Matt Asiata all put the ball on the turf in critical times for the offense.
"They had some good runs between them, but it's discouraging when the ball's on the ground," said Frazier. "We'll have to continue to evaluate that position and make a decision on what direction to go."
Blair Walsh project:
The rookie kicker with a big leg missed from 45 yards on the first play of the second quarter. Walsh is 8-for-10 on field goals during the preseason.
The punt team finally saw the field while the first team offense was in the game. Up until tonight's game, Chris Kluwe had not punted while the Vikings ones were in the game. That ended during the first two possessions.
Safety Mistrail Raymond warmed up but didn't play due to what Frazier termed a lower back injury.
Cornerback Josh Robinson suffered concussion like symptoms following a hit on the sidelines in the third quarter.
The Vikings complete their preseason schedule next Thursday night on the road against the Houston Texans. Kickoff is at 6:00 p.m.