MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Minnesota Vikings shut out the Kansas City Chiefs for more than three quarters. The game was shaping up as a sure victory against a reeling opponent that was doing much more wrong than right.
The NFL is rarely that easy, though.
”I had to get my pacemaker readjusted after that one,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. ”I told my team all week long this was going to be a nail biter. As you can tell from my nails, they are.”
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The Vikings used decent defense, another big game by rookie wide receiver Stefon Diggs and some late-game resolve to preserve a 16-10 victory on Sunday over the Chiefs, who rallied from a rough first half to create some late drama but couldn’t dodge their fifth straight loss.
”As dark as it is, you want to sulk. There’s no time for any of that,” Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said. ”You’ve got to go.”
Diggs had 129 yards on seven catches for the Vikings (3-2) on an afternoon when Teddy Bridgewater threw two interceptions and Adrian Peterson netted only 60 yards on 26 carries. Playing in only his second career game, the fifth-round draft pick from Maryland had a 30-yard reception on third-and-15 that extended a drive for Blair Walsh’s third field goal with 4:46 left.
”Stefon was in the right place at the right time,” said Bridgewater, who threw a touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph in the second quarter but was more erratic than sharp.
The same could be said for Smith, who found tight end Travis Kelce five times for 88 yards in the second half but lost wide receiver Jeremy Maclin to a concussion. The first game for the Chiefs (1-5) without star running back Jamaal Charles was hardly encouraging, with a long run of 9 yards and a lost fumble by rookie replacement Charcandrick West with 4:32 remaining.
”That killed it. Killed it all,” West said.
Here are some key angles that emerged from the game:
ALL IN: The Vikings have an aggressive scheme on defense and when the Chiefs faced third-and-10 at the Minnesota 42 midway through the fourth quarter, Zimmer called for an all-out blitz with seven rushers on the play.
He got burned, when Smith threw left to Albert Wilson for a short screen pass that quickly turned into a touchdown with the secondary mostly emptied out. That pulled the Chiefs within 13-10, but Zimmer wasn’t apologizing.
”They kind of had us on the ropes,” he said, ”and if I’m going to die, I’m going to die with my guns.”
STOPPING PETERSON: The Chiefs loaded up to limit Peterson, whose 17 carries in the first quarter netted 16 yards, and overwhelmed Minnesota’s offensive line. Peterson hurt the ring finger on his right hand, too, and noted in particular the force that defensive tackle Allen Bailey brought to their collisions.
”That guy is extremely strong,” Peterson said.
Some good happened on the ground for the Vikings, though. Peterson’s 23-yard run off right tackle sparked a third quarter march for a field goal. Their only touchdown drive was extended by a fourth-and-1 run by Peterson up the middle that gained 3 yards to the Kansas City 39.
SAFETY FIRST?: When Chiefs left guard Ben Grubbs was called for holding on a third-down incompletion in the first quarter, the Vikings flexed their arms above their heads to signal a safety. But referee Jerome Boger announced the infraction took place ”in the field of play,” despite replays that revealed Grubbs halfway into the end zone when Smith released the ball.
Penalties aren’t reviewable by replay, so the Vikings declined to force a punt.
HANG ON!: Left tackle Donald Stephenson appeared to inadvertently knock the ball out of West’s hands for the crucial turnover, a fitting end to a mistake-prone day for the Chiefs. West was also stopped for no gain on fourth-and-1 at the Minnesota 7 late in the third quarter, though they argued that his knee never touched the ground, another play that was not reviewable.
STRONG START: Diggs, a fifth-round draft pick from Maryland, was a healthy scratch for the first three games. He has 13 catches for 216 yards in two contests since.
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