Daniel Carlson kicks 2 field goals, Vikings beat Titans 13-3
By TERESA M. WALKER
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Minnesota Vikings and Tennessee Titans did their best to protect their starters for the regular season, letting Kirk Cousins and Marcus Mariota lead the cheers from the sidelines.
Rookie Daniel Carlson kicked field goals of 39 and 22 yards, and Kyle Sloter added a 24-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter as the Vikings beat the Tennessee Titans 13-3 on Thursday night as the teams wrapped up the preseason.
"We're excited to get the preseason over with and start focusing on somebody else and game planning," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said.
"The varsity is taking the field now," Walker said.
Carlson rebounded from missing a pair of 42-yarders wide left a week ago after beating out Kai Forbath for the job. Carlson connected from 39 yards late in the first half, tying it 3-3. He added a 22-yarder midway through the third quarter, giving the Vikings (3-1) a 6-3 lead.
The Titans finished first-year coach Mike Vrabel's first preseason winless, though he made clear protecting starters for the regular season mattered more than notching an exhibition victory. Vrabel said he feels much better about the health of his roster than two weeks ago, and that he focused on coaching the Titans who've worked hard for the team against the Vikings.
What does Vrabel know about the Titans after his first preseason?
"We'll find that out when we go to Miami," Vrabel said. "We'll really find out what kind of team we've got, how conditioned we are and how talented we are and what kind of coaches when we get done with Miami."
The starters who did play were the kickers, and the Titans kept Pro Bowl punter Brett Kern very busy. He punted five times before his backup took over.
In the battle of the backups, the Titans dominated the first quarter, outgaining Minnesota 77-8 and holding the ball for more than 12 minutes. Rookie Luke Falk, a sixth-round draft pick out of Washington State, played the whole game. Falk outplayed Cousins' backup Trevor Siemian at least in the first quarter, when the Vikings went three-and-out twice.
The Vikings sacked Falk four times, and he threw for 114 yards. Siemian lasted the first half and was 6 of 11 for 55 yards. Zimmer said he thought Siemian played better and helped out the Vikings' young receivers. Siemian said it was a slow first quarter.
"You get a small sample size and you'd like to keep playing, but that's kind of how it goes," Siemian said.
Vikings undrafted rookie Mike Boone had 15 carries for 56 yards. He also caught two passes for 53 yards. Roc Thomas, fighting Boone for the third running back slot, hurt his left ankle when tackled at the end of a screen pass early in the second quarter, and finished with four carries for 12 yards.
Devin Ross, who started with a chance to push for one of the last wide receiver slots, hurt his right ankle on the first play of the Titans' second series.
No protests were seen by either the Vikings or the Titans. Even Tennessee wide receiver Rishard Matthews, who stayed in the tunnel last season after comments by President Trump in September, was on the sideline during the anthem. He was just removed last weekend from the physically unable to perform list.
Vikings: Host San Francisco on Sept. 9.
Titans: Open season Sept. 9 at Miami.
Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker
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Updated August 31, 2018