Minnesota Vikings tight end MyCole Pruitt got the NFL on the board for the 2015 season.
After a sluggish first quarter-and-a-half of the preseason-opening Hall of Fame game, the Vikings rookie fifth-round pick caught a 34-yard touchdown. He got behind a missed assignment in coverage by the Pittsburgh Steelers and caught a lob pass from Mike Kafka for the first touchdown of the NFL preseason. That was the first NFL touchdown since Julian Edelman’s 3-yard score late in the second quarter of Super Bowl XLIX.
Finally the long offseason is over. Football is back.
Not that it was the most beautiful football exhibition on Sunday night. For a while in the first half there was a question if we’d see any points at all. Minnesota’s Blair Walsh missed a field goal early in the second quarter. Neither offense could sustain a drive. Finally Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham hit a 36-yard field goal with 8:23 left in the second quarter for the first points of the (unofficial) season. Pruitt scored shortly after that. The Steelers dropped a wide-open pass that would have been a touchdown on fourth and goal in the final minute of the half, and the score stayed 7-3 at halftime.
The Steelers played very few key players on offense, thought some defensive starters played a little bit. The Vikings did use most of their starters, including quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, for a series. Running back Adrian Peterson, as usual in the preseason, did not play.
The first series of the game by the Steelers saw a short completion, a stuffed run, a delay of game penalty, a receiver screen that didn’t pick up a first down and a punt. NFL Films won’t commission a special DVD on this game. But, again, it was football.
There were some nice plays. Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon had a nice move and ran over a defender to pick up a first down on a swing pass on Minnesota’s opening series. At the end of that series, Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons had a huge hit on third down and on the next play the Steelers made a fourth-down stop. For the backups on both teams who are trying to win a job, everything counts.
After six months between games, even sloppy football between second- and third-stringers was a nice sight.
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