Cousins perfect in Minnesota debut, Vikings beat Broncos, 42-28
DENVER — Kirk Cousins was perfect in his first game for Minnesota on Saturday night, completing all four of his passes, including a 1-yard touchdown strike to Stefon Diggs in the Vikings’ 42-28 exhibition victory over the Denver Broncos.
Case Keenum wasn’t nearly as sharp in his Denver debut.
He completed just 1 of 4 passes for 5 yards spanning two drives that went nowhere, lamenting after getting taken out that “I definitely did” want another possession. “I’ll be honest, I wanted one series with a few more plays and (to) score a touchdown.”
Cousins, the former Washington QB, was the crown jewel of this year’s free- agent class of quarterbacks, signing a fully-guaranteed, three-year $84 million deal in Minneapolis.
Two months after leading the Vikings to the NFC championship, Keenum signed a two-year, $36 million deal in Denver, and the Broncos traded Trevor Siemian to the Vikings to serve as Cousins’ backup — so long as he beats out another former Denver QB Kyle Sloter.
That left Paxton Lynch and Chad Kelly vying for No. 2 duty in Denver.
After Cousins’ single series — one in which he didn’t have to face Von Miller — Siemian led Minnesota on three scoring drives, most notably a screen pass to Roc Thomas that beat the blitz for a 78-yard score.
Siemian was 11 of 17 for 165 yards, two TDs and an interception against his old team.
Lynch, the former first-rounder twice beaten out by Siemian in Denver, was just 6 of 11 for 24 yards and an interception.
Despite 17 yards passing overall in the first half, the Broncos only trailed 24-14 at halftime thanks to Isaiah McKenzie’s 78-yard punt return for a TD and rookie Royce Freeman’s 23-yard TD scamper — Denver’s only first down before halftime.
Kelly threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to tight end Matt LaCosse to pull Denver to 27-21 and amid chants of “Kelly! Kelly!” he drove Denver 85 yards in 11 plays, capping the drive with a 19-yard strike to running back Phillip Lindsay to put the Broncos on top 28-27 with 10 minutes remaining.
Sloter, who was cut by Denver a year ago, responded by throwing a 9-yard touchdown pass to Chad Beebe with six minutes left to put the Vikings back on top. His strike to Jeff Badet for the 2-point conversion made it 35-28.
Safety Jack Tocho picked off Kelly at the Denver 30-yard line with 5:23 left, and Sloter sealed it with a 14-yard bootleg for the score on third-and-4.
Sloter was 9 of 11 for 69 yards and Kelly was 14 of 20 for 176.
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