The Vikings eked out a preseason win over the San Francisco 49ers thanks to backup Taylor Heinicke's last-second heroics, but the performance of their starters raised questions across the board.
Sam Bradford looked sharp when he was upright, completing 17 passes on 21 attempts for 134 yards, but an atypically sloppy showing by receiver Stefon Diggs and a lack of cohesion on the offensive line were even more notable than their quarterback's effectiveness.
On the other side of the ball the Vikings struggled against Kyle Shanahan's new-look 49ers offense.
Brian Hoyer marched down the field in the first quarter, completing his first nine passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns.
Read on for our thoughts on the game, because you probably missed it, which is fine.
USA TODAY SportsBrace Hemmelgarn
PLAYER OF THE GAME
With Bradford atop the depth chart, Teddy Bridgewater on the mend and journeyman Case Keenum making a case for the backup job, it’s easy to forget about Heinicke. The former Old Dominion standout has toiled in the background since signing with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 2015, but he finally got his moment in the spotlight Sunday. The battered quarterback led a game-winning touchdown drive after missing practice last week with undisclosed injury. Heinicke and the Vikings marched 63 yards down the field on 14 plays, and were essentially forced into a pass-or-die situation on the goal line after rookie Stacey Coley failed to get the ball out of bounds in the red zone with seconds to play. A pass interference call led to a quick rushing touchdown for Terrell Newby, before Heinicke scrambled to his right and motored into the end zone to complete the two-point conversion and the comeback. Football people practically invented the word "gutsy" for this sort of play.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT ME
Coley doesn’t have a veteran’s football smarts quite yet (stretching for extra yards instead of getting out of bounds with seconds to go and one time out left is … well, he'll learn) but the Vikings appear to have something in the former seventh-round pick out of Miami. Coley led the Vikings with 76 receiving yards, showing off some slick moves after the catch. He now has nine catches for 160 yards through three preseason games.
USA TODAY SportsSteve Mitchell
McKinnon performed a solid Cordarrelle Patterson impression in the second half, taking a punt return 108 yards back for a score. With Cook playing well and Murray back on the field McKinnon’s best shot at a consistent role with the Vikings could be in the return game, and he certainly improved his stock Sunday.
Associated PressJim Mone
The Vikings first-team offense still hasn't scored a touchdown this preseason. They managed just three points against the 49ers thanks to Marshall Koehn's 58-yard field goal. Meanwhile, quarterback Brian Hoyer orchestrated a five-play, 79-yard touchdown drive on the 49ers’ first possession. That drive ended in an almost-casual 46-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Goodwin, who torched cornerback Xavier Rhodes and sauntered into the end zone.
Associated PressBruce Kluckhohn
THEY SAID IT
"You get thrown in right there, two-minute drill to go win the game, every quarterback dreams of that." -- Vikings quarterback Taylor Heinicke
"We didn't play well defensively. Gave up big plays, had too many mistakes." -- Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer
"Even though this doesn't count, it becomes an issue right now." -- Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen
"You can't start like that. You can't give up 14 points that easy." -- Vikings safety Harrison Smith
The Vikings have one more tune-up game to go before the real football begins. They host the Miami Dolphins on Thursday, then start the season on Monday, Sept. 11 with a primetime matchup against Adrian Peterson and the New Orleans Saints.