NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 1 Game Recap: Cincinnati Bengals 27, Minnesota Vikings 24

Sep 12, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) gets away from Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everyone Griffen (97)during the second quarter at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

In a game that was supposed to be the Minnesota Vikings’ to lose, the hometown Cincinnati Bengals had other ideas. Cincinnati established a lead and looked like it was going to win the game comfortably before the Vikings executed a comeback to send the game to overtime. Bengals head coach Zac Taylor had been burned by being aggressive earlier in the game, but he went back to the well deep in overtime to put the team in a position to kick the game-winning field goal.

In the end, the Bengals completed the upset and came away with a 27-24 win over the Vikings.


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Minnesota Vikings

Quarterback

The Vikings dug themselves a hole from the very first drive, being called for a handful of false start and holding penalties.  Kirk Cousins struggled behind an offensive line that was overmatched earlier in the game, so he had to speed up his process and rely on yards after the catch. Cousins’ average depth of target was just 5.8 yards downfield.

Dropbacks BTTs TWPs aDot
Kirk Cousins 51 0 0 5.8

BTT = Big-Time Throw; TWP = Turnover-Worthy Play

Running Back

Dalvin Cook was again tasked with carrying the offense with little help around him. He was charged with a fumble deep in overtime, which seemed like a questionable call on replay. Forty-five of his 61 rushing yards came after contact.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

Both of the Vikings' top receivers — Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen — put together impressive outings. Thielen scored twice and Jefferson should have had a touchdown but for another questionable replay call. K.J. Osborn was the WR3 due to injuries, playing 59 snaps — just 10 fewer than the two players ahead of him on the depth chart.

Offensive Line

Minnesota’s offensive line struggled mightily early in the game but will likely end up with passable grades because of how much the offense began to protect the unit with how quickly the ball was thrown later on. Right tackle Brian O’Neill was the best player of the group, but the Vikings badly need first-round rookie Christian Darrisaw back from injury.

Defensive Line

A revamped unit from last year, Minnesota saw 40 or more snaps from each of Danielle Hunter, Michael Pierce and Dalvin Tomlinson, with 2020 fourth-rounder D.J. Wonnum also starting and seeing 46 snaps. No Vikings lineman had more than two total pressures on first review.

Linebackers

Former Bengal Nick Vigil had an impressive display in his return to Cincinnati, making seven tackles. And all seven of them were defensive stops — impact plays for the defense.

Secondary

New addition Patrick Peterson held up pretty well, allowing just two catches for 24 yards all game. The other cornerback positions were more of a problem. Bashaud Breeland was torched for a deep touchdown by rookie Ja’Marr Chase, and he allowed more than 100 receiving yards in the game.

Cincinnati Bengals

Quarterback

Joe Burrow is back. After his promising rookie year ended early due to an injury, his performance in this game was widely anticipated. Burrow looked calm and assured — and potentially even better than he was last season. He was one of the worst deep passers in the league as a rookie, but reuniting him with his favorite target at LSU — Chase — has already paid dividends there, with the pair connecting on a deep touchdown.

Running Back

Joe Mixon led all players with 33 touches in this game. He had 29 rushing attempts and added four receptions. Mixon racked up 127 yards on the ground, with 81 of them coming after contact.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

Reports of Ja’Marr Chase’s demise seem to have been premature. His preseason was ugly, with four drops on five targets, but this was evidence of how big an impact he can make on this offense. Chase led the team in targets with seven, catching five of them for over 100 yards and, critically, no drops.

Routes Run Targets Receptions Yards
Ja'Marr Chase 30 7 5 101
Tee Higgins 27 5 4 58
Tyler Boyd 27 4 3 32
C.J. Uzomah 23 2 2 35
Offensive Line

Cincinnati’s offensive line is still a work in progress, but it was good enough for the offense to function against the Vikings. Trey Hopkins was beaten badly a couple of times from his center position. While the interior is the biggest weakness, Jonah Williams looked strong protecting Burrow’s blindside.

Defensive Line

Larry Ogunjobi showed up early and often against the run for the Bengals, making four defensive stops and causing the Vikings’ run game to suffer several unsuccessful plays. New edge rusher Trey Hendrickson played 60 total snaps, and B.J. Hill already looks like a steal as part of the trade to ship out offensive lineman Billy Price. Hill made a key play late in the game to beat his blocker and hit Kirk Cousins in the pocket.

Linebackers

Do-it-all player Vonn Bell lined up all over the field in this game across a sizable 74 total snaps. Bell spent 27 of those snaps in some kind of linebacker alignment, with another dozen coming around the line of scrimmage.

Vonn Bell Snaps by Alignment
Alignment Snaps
Line of Scrimmage 12
Box 34
Free Safety 6
Slot 22
Total 74

Secondary

Chidobe Awuzie was making impressive plays in coverage early on to slow down the Vikings’ passing attack, and he ended the game with very good coverage numbers. Awuzie saw the most targets (seven) of any member of the Bengals’ secondary but allowed just two catches for 26 yards — even if one was a touchdown. Eli Apple and Mike Hilton were the second and third corners, and the next-most targeted defensive backs, but neither fared as well. Each player gave up a score and allowed catches on every target.

Know tomorrow, today. Western Southern Financial Group.
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