Sloppiness Defines the Vikings’ Loss to the Bengals

It was one of the uglier games one can remember for the Minnesota Vikings. A 27-24 overtime loss to the Cincinnati Bengals gave Vikings fans flashbacks to past seasons.

Minnesota entered Paul Brown Stadium as 3-point favorites and appeared to have the better team on paper. Unfortunately, on the first drive of the season, the Vikings committed four penalties on offense and hamstrung a drive that showed potential.

After a fairly non-descript first 25 minutes, the Bengals began moving the ball downfield. With the ball on the Vikings’ 29-yard line, the clock ticked towards the two-minute warning. Although it appeared obvious that Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow was content with taking the clock down to the two minutes, the Vikings jumped. With a free play, Burrow tossed a pass towards the Vikings’ goal line. Even though the pass to receiver Tee Higgins fell incomplete, Minnesota cornerback Bashaud Breeland was called for pass interference and moved the ball to the Vikings’ 3-yard line. Two plays later Burrow connected with receiver Tee Higgins for a touchdown and tied the game at 7-7.

The ensuing Minnesota drive got ugly after a holding call on left tackle Rashod Hill. With the ball at 2nd-and-20, the Vikings were behind the sticks and ended up punting the ball back to Cincinnati with 1:11 left. Minnesota’s struggles with the Bengals’ receivers continued after that. Four plays later, Bengals rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase ran right by Breeland for a 50-yard score to give the Bengals a 14-7 lead going into halftime.

Somehow the Vikings clawed back and tied the game at 24 at the end of regulation when Greg Joseph tied the game on a 53-yard field goal. After forcing a punt in overtime, Minnesota’s first drive went off-course with yet another pre-snap penalty. The Vikings forced another punt, then appeared to be ready to steal a victory from the jaws of the Bengals after quarterback Kirk Cousins found stud receiver Justin Jefferson over the middle for a 12-yard gain to the Cincinnati 38-yard line.

On the very next play, star running back Dalvin Cook allegedly fumbled. Replay appeared to show that he was down before losing the ball. However, with the call on the field being a turnover, the officials couldn’t find a clear shot of Cook hitting the ground before the ball came loose.

Four plays later, on 4th-and-an-inch, the Bengals called a play-action pass to get the ball to the Vikings’ 20-yard line. Minnesota’s linebackers and secondary were a discombobulated mess on the play and allowed Cincinnati tight end C.J. Ozomah to work the field and find a soft spot in the zone. Three plays later, Bengals kicker Evan McPherson kicked a 33-yard field goal to hand the Vikings a tough 27-24 loss.

In total, the Vikings committed 12 penalties for 116 yards. The offensive line gave up three sacks and each of their five players was responsible for at least one flag. The season is far from over, but the Vikings need to figure something out quickly. Their Week 2 matchup is against an Arizona Cardinals team that defeated the Tennessee Titans 38-13. If Minnesota can’t clean up their game across the board, the season will be over before the leaves change colors.