Sat Aug 24 4:52pm ET
By DAVE CAMPBELL
AP Pro Football Writer
In this Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018 file photo, Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) runs against the Detroit Lions during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018, in Detroit. With rookie Alexander Mattison at the top of the candidate list and Ameer Abdullah returning after a late-season arrival last year, the Minnesota Vikings are looking for another running back to emerge as a reliable complement to Dalvin Cook. (AP Photo/Jose Juarez, File)
Arizona Cardinals defensive end Zach Allen (97) pressures Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, right, during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) runs from Arizona Cardinals linebacker Dennis Gardeck, right, after making a reception during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) runs from Minnesota Vikings defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo (95) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Arizona Cardinals place kicker Zane Gonzalez (5) kicks a 32-yard field goal in front of Minnesota Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes, left, during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook celebrates with teammate CJ Ham (30) after scoring on an 85-yard touchdown run in the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) runs from Arizona Cardinals defenders Tramaine Brock (20) and D.J. Swearinger (36) during an 85-yard touchdown run in the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins runs off the field during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray throws a pass during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Dalvin Cook had an 85-yard touchdown run for Minnesota, the highlight of an otherwise rough first half by the first-team offense during a 20-9 victory by the Vikings over the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday.
Cook scored early and Mike Boone crossed the goal line late, as the Vikings totaled 190 yards on 29 carries. The ground game was by far the best development of an afternoon when Kirk Cousins went just 3 for 13 for 35 yards while taking two sacks and Kaare Vedvik missed field goals from 43 and 54 yards.
Rookie Kyler Murray, the first overall pick in the draft to whom new coach Kliff Kingsbury and the Cardinals have turned to lead the reconstruction project, was relatively sharp while going 14 for 21 for 137 yards over the five possessions against a Vikings defense that was almost at full strength. Three of the drives ended with a successful field goal by Zane Gonzalez, a result that surely made the Vikings envious.
Vedvik, who has been given an extended evaluation as both a kicker and a punter, made both of his extra point attempts, at least, while incumbent Dan Bailey took the afternoon off. Matt Wile punted six times for an average of 47.3 yards, leaving no more clarity about the specialists than when the month began.
Cousins was under frequent pressure and had multiple passes knocked down at the line, including one deflection by rookie Zach Allen, who had a half-sack. Another Cardinals draft pick, KeeSean Johnson, stood out on the other side of the ball with seven receptions for 85 yards on seven targets.
One of the most discouraging aspects of the performance for Kingsbury and his staff were the 14 penalties for 111 yards, including two false starts called on backup quarterback Brett Hundley in a three-snap stretch late in the second quarter for apparently lifting his leg to signal a receiver to start his motion.
THE LONG RUN
The Cardinals were last in the league last season in rushing defense, allowing an average of nearly 155 yards per game that was bumped up by the Vikings here last Oct. 14 in a 27-17 victory fueled by a career-high 155 rushing yards from Latavius Murray.
Cook made the Cardinals look bad again, when he took a handoff to the left and veered right behind a key seal block by new right guard Josh Kline. The new zone blocking scheme directed by offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, senior offensive adviser Gary Kubiak and offensive line coach Rick Dennison ought to be a good fit for Cook with his keen cutback ability. The touchdown run was the longest in a preseason game in Vikings history, topping a 76-yarder by Jordan Todman in 2012.
Cardinals: New WR Michael Crabtree, the 11th-year veteran who signed with the team earlier this week, did not suit up. Neither did CB Patrick Peterson, the eight-time Pro Bowl pick facing a six-game suspension to start the regular season for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancers.
Vikings: DT Linval Joseph, who joined the team for practice this week for the first time since offseason shoulder surgery, was held out of the starting lineup, as was SS Harrison Smith. On offense, WR Adam Thielen rested, and RT Brian O'Neill stayed on the sideline again, after returning to the field this week following a three-week absence because of a right arm injury.
Cardinals: Play at Denver on Thursday night in their final exhibition game. The regular-season opener is Sept. 8 against Detroit.
Vikings: Play at Tennessee on Thursday night in their final exhibition game. The regular-season opener is Sept. 8 against Atlanta.
Updating previous reports, Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (quadriceps) aggravated the quadriceps injury he had coming into the game Sunday, Sept. 22. Hilton re-injured it a couple of plays before he scored a touchdown, but he didn't want to leave the game before the drive was over because he knew he wasn't coming back. He'll have tests done for re-evaluation.
Fantasy Spin: If he's able to recover in time for Week 4, he'll have a great matchup against the Oakland Raiders. More will be known later in the day after tests are done.
San Francisco 49ers WR Dante Pettis caught four of his five targets for 20 yards and a touchdown in Week 3 versus the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Fantasy Spin: Sadly, all of those marks are season highs. Pettis was quiet for most of the game, but his TD catch with 1:15 remaining was the game-winner and very much a "trust throw" from Jimmy Garoppolo as he split two defenders from about five yards away. It seems likely Pettis will eventually find his way back into head coach Kyle Shanahan's good graces and be fantasy relevant again soon, but he should be on waivers in most normal-sized leagues now. He'll have a chance to prove himself again after the team's Week 4 bye.
San Francisco 49ers RB Matt Breida ran 14 times for 68 yards and hauled in two of his three targets for 20 yards in Week 3 versus the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Fantasy Spin: Breida's 16 touches are a season high, but his upside is capped by sharing touches with Raheem Mostert outside the red zone and losing goal-line work to Jeff Wilson. The frustrating thing for fantasy owners is San Francisco is averaging nearly 40 rushing attempts and unable to make any one of its three backs anything more than a flex option. Breida has the most consistent role of the bunch, and he figures to remain a high-end flex when the 49ers return from their bye to meet the Cleveland Browns in Week 5.
Pittsburgh Steelers LB T.J. Watt had an interception and a fumble recovery against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3. Watt added two tackles, two passes defensed and two quarterback hits.
Seattle Seahawks tight end Will Dissly was on the right end of a reception once again as he was the chosen one for the team's final garbage-time touchdown of the game on Sunday. Dissly was targeted seven times, caught six passes, and tallied 62 yards in the game, exact copies of his season stats coming into the matchup. The rainy conditions seemed to make Dissly more appealing to quarterback Russell Wilson, and it looks like he trusts that Dissly is a solid release valve when he finds himself in trouble. Be wary of Seattle's knack for letting certain receivers go to rot quickly after they look great, but for now, Dissly could be a real part of the offense moving forward.
Pittsburgh Steelers WR James Washington accounted for 14 yards on two receptions in the team's Week 3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
Fantasy Spin: With Donte Moncrief inactive there was hope that Washington would step up, but Pittsburgh's passing game flailed around outside of a pair of long TD connections. While there's still some long-term upside with Washington, he's only worth stashing in larger leagues.
San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle caught six of his eight targets for 57 yards in Week 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Fantasy Spin: Kittle opened the season with consecutive 54-yard outings. It's a bit of an anomaly that a big-play threat like Kittle hasn't enjoyed a huge day or scored a touchdown yet, but his time is coming; he's had a bit of bad luck this season after having a lot of good fortune in 2018. The 49ers will go on a bye in Week 4, but he'll remain an elite TE1 option when he returns to action in Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns.
Pittsburgh Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster caught three passes for 81 yards and a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3.
Fantasy Spin: Seventy-six of Smith-Schuster's 81 receiving yards came on a long touchdown, salvaging an otherwise unimpressive first game post-Big Ben. Week 4 presents a tasty matchup with the Bengals, which means Smith-Schuster should remain in your starting lineup.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf continued his impressive run on Sunday as he snagged a 54-yard bomb just before halftime. Metcalf was a little quieter the rest of the day, partially due to rain and constant slipping on the field, but he's now caught a pass of 25+ yards in all three games of his young career. Metcalf was targeted six times in the game, and while he only caught two of the passes, he at least made those ones count. The coaching staff seems to love having Metcalf across from Tyler Lockett, so it looks like he's in for a pretty solid year as the team's No. 2 receiver.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver David Moore finally got into the action for the first time on Sunday, but he only caught one pass on the afternoon. As expected, Moore's catch was a nifty one that featured him coming back and around a defender to be able to reach the wet, slippery ball, but the lack of chances continues to limit his potential. Moore was initially pegged as the team's likely No. 2 receiver, but it looks like everyone's infatuated with D.K. Metcalf so far, so Moore's looking more like he'll be battling for table scraps. His incredible acrobatics will allow him to make highlight reels often, but it doesn't look like he'll be hitting box scores as regularly.
Pittsburgh Steelers RB James Conner (knee) gained 43 yards on 13 carries against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3. He added 14 yards on four receptions and also lost a fumble.
Fantasy Spin: With a young QB making his first NFL start the Steelers needed a big day from Conner. They got the opposite. He turned his 17 touches into just 57 yards and his fourth-quarter fumble set up the game-winning TD for the 49ers. They'll expect more from Conner going forward, and he should continue to get opportunities to make plays. He's a solid RB2 against the winless Bengals in Week 4.
San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo finished 23-of-32 for 277 yards and a touchdown to go along with two interceptions in Week 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He had three yards rushing on six carries and lost one of his two fumbles.
Fantasy Spin: While not having a clear alpha receiver probably isn't helping his cause, Garoppolo hasn't been particularly sharp in two of his three games. Of course, expectations should have been kept in check early this season anyway considering he is still working his way back from ACL surgery. Garoppolo will have plenty of things to work on heading into the team's Week 4 bye and will be a middling QB2 option at best in Week 5 versus the Cleveland Browns.
Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson busted a big 23-yard bruiser of a run early in Sunday's game against the Saints, but after that, he was nearly silent. Carson finished with just 15 carries for 53 yards and one reception out of the backfield. Carson's lack of use was due to a combination of the score, where Seattle was getting pounded for the majority of the game, and a costly fumble that turned into a defensive touchdown in the first half. This is the third game in a row where Carson has coughed up the ball in a terrible way, and that's a bad sign for his long-term prospects in Seattle.
Given the chance to be the team's No. 2 for the week, Seattle Seahawks running back C.J. Prosise didn't make much noise. With running back Rashaad Penny (hamstring) out on Sunday, Prosise got his chance to remind everyone why Seattle has put up with his annual injuries. Instead, he tallied just five yards on four carries. He did catch five passes out of the backfield to rack up 38 yards, but most of that came on one 21-yarder. Penny's injury isn't considered serious, and he's currently expected to play in Week 4. For now, it looks like Prosise will continue to have to sit tight because he's not putting any pressure on anyone ahead of him in the depth chart.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett had the biggest receiving day of his NFL career on Sunday as he caught 11 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown in the team's loss to New Orleans. He also just missed a second touchdown pass on an errant throw that was a little out of his reach. Lockett came up huge for quarterback Russell Wilson and the Seahawks throughout the game, snagging balls left and right to keep the team in it when they were down big. The game doubled up Lockett's catches and targets on the season, and he's now averaging more than 90 yards receiving per game. Lockett looks like he's well on his way to topping 1,000 yards this season, and he should have a handful of touchdowns in the bank as well.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson put up huge numbers in Sunday's loss against the Saints. Wilson completed 32 passes on 50 attempts for 406 yards and two passing touchdowns. He also carried the ball seven times and ran in a pair of touchdowns, including one where he straight muscled through a Saints defender. The explosion of passing attempts was due to the fact that Seattle trailed by a hefty margin for the majority of the game after a series of bad breaks early on. That said, this is the second straight game where Wilson has tallied up sizable QB numbers. Perhaps Seattle is willing to let him use some of his magic moving forward.
Seattle Seahawks LB K.J. Wright recorded 13 tackles in Week 3 against the New Orleans Saints - matching his total from the first two games combined.
Cleveland Browns CB T.J. Carrie had seven tackles (six solo), two passes defensed and an interception against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 3.
New Orleans Saints CB Marshon Lattimore registered a career-high 12 tackles - including 10 solo - in Week 3 versus the Seattle Seahawks.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Travis Benjamin had a step on two defenders with two minutes left and the team trailing by seven points, but he couldn't hold on to the throw that hit him in both hands. Quarterback Philip Rivers had laid it out in the perfect spot where only Benjamin could reach it, but it was gone in an instant as it started to slip out of his hands and a slap on the elbow from a Texans defender ensured it couldn't be snagged. Instead, Benjamin finished with just two catches for five yards, and the Chargers fell to 1-2 on the season.