Penalty Flags Fly in Vikings Loss to Jaguars
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Yannick Ngakoue had an 11-yard sack that helped Jacksonville's defense hold Kirk Cousins and Minnesota's starting offense to three completions and three points, and the Jaguars reserves rallied for a 14-10 victory over the Vikings on Saturday.
Cousins was crisp in his only series last week , but the Vikings went three-and-out on two of their four possessions with their new quarterback. Latavius Murray's second fumble, stripped by Malik Jackson, was recovered by Calais Campbell to end another drive. Cousins finished just 3 for 8 for 12 yards.
Minnesota's defense was closer to midseason form, though, with an interception by Harrison Smith of Blake Bortles and another sure pick by Mackensie Alexander that was bobbled and dropped.
Bortles played the entire first half and went 12 for 20 for 159 yards, producing a touchdown run by Leonard Fournette on one of his seven series, the last of three possessions the Vikings starters were still in the game.
T.J. Yeldon helped his cause to be Fournette's backup, with five catches for 73 yards and 10 carries for 39 yards.
With a 57-yard punt return by Rashad Greene to set up the score just after the two-minute warning, Jacksonville took a late lead on a short run by Brandon Wilds. The Vikings had six sacks, two by Ifeadi Odenigbo.
The Jaguars were called for 13 penalties for a whopping 140 yards, including 10 infractions in the first half. Ngakoue celebrated his sack with an incendiary hip-thrusting dance, taking one of the 15-yarders. Cornerback A.J. Bouye was singled out for the NFL's new targeting rule, for lowering his helmet on a tackle attempt.
Vikings linebacker Antwione Williams was also flagged for unnecessary roughness, negating a sack of Cody Kessler for apparently driving him into the turf, another point of emphasis this year for officials on the field.
ON THE LINE
Left tackle Riley Reiff was the only starter from last year suited up on Minnesota's offensive line, with guards Nick Easton (neck) and Joe Berger (retirement) gone. The new right side, Mike Remmers and Rashod Hill, was held out with ankle injuries. Center Pat Elflein is still recovering from offseason shoulder and ankle surgeries.
The wife (Jeanette), daughter (Ryan) and son (Tony Jr.) of former Vikings offensive line coach Tony Sparano, who died suddenly last month of heart disease, were honored before the game. The entire Vikings offensive line joined the family at midfield for the coin flip. Tony Sparano Jr. is the assistant offensive line coach for the Jaguars. Sparano's other son, Andy, was unable to attend. Berger blew the ceremonial Gjallarhorn kickoff.
No players on either team were seen kneeling or sitting on the sideline for the national anthem. Last week , four Jaguars players remained in the locker room during "The Star-Spangled Banner," cornerback Jalen Ramsey, linebacker Telvin Smith and running backs Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon. Ramsey was not at this game, left at home like Dante Fowler for disciplinary reasons related to the fight. Fournette and Yeldon were spotted on the sideline during the singing, though Smith was not.
Jaguars: Six starters were among the 12 players listed as inactive: Ramsey, free safety Tashaun Gipson, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, left guard Andrew Norwell, right tackle Jeremy Parnell and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Norwell, the team's premier free agent addition, was held out of the opener because of a calf injury. Parnell sat that one, too, as did rookie defensive end Taven Bryan (abdomen). ... Center Brandon Linder (knee), strong safety Don Carey (hamstring) and left guard Chris Reed (knee) were injured during the game. Reed took Norwell's spot.
Vikings: Four starters were among the 13 players listed as inactive: defensive end Everson Griffen, Elflein, Remmers, Hill and running back Dalvin Cook, who's being brought along carefully coming off reconstructive knee surgery for a torn left ACL. ... Alexander, who's competing with rookie Mike Hughes to play the slot position in the nickel package, hurt his ankle on his dropped interception. Five other backups were hurt during the game: defensive end Ade Aruna (right knee), guards Josh Andrews (right ankle) and Cedrick Lang, wide receiver Jeff Badet and fullback Johnny Stanton (left leg).
The Jaguars host Atlanta next Saturday.
The Vikings host Seattle on Friday.