Minneapolis — The Minnesota Vikings have shown plenty of potential since coach Mike Zimmer took over last year.
Signs of progress can come in ugly performances, too, like Sunday’s victory over the reeling Kansas City Chiefs.
Bailed out by a persistent defense, three field goals by Blair Walsh and another big game by rookie wide receiver Stefon Diggs, Teddy Bridgewater and the Vikings held on to beat the Chiefs 16-10.
“No win in this league is going to come easy. You get an easy win, you’re a lucky team,” said Bridgewater, who threw two interceptions.
Alex Smith’s 42-yard touchdown pass to Albert Wilson midway through the fourth quarter pulled the Chiefs within three points, but the Vikings (3-2) played well enough early to survive their ragged finish. They shut out the Chiefs for more than three quarters.
The Chiefs (1-5) netted 51 yards in the first half and were penalized for 50 yards, but they found a rhythm after the break with five receptions for 88 yards by tight end Travis Kelce.
Charcandrick West, one of the replacements for injured star Jamaal Charles, was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-1 at the 7-yard line midway through the fourth quarter. The Chiefs argued that West’s knee never touched the ground, but the play was not reviewable.
Then West lost the ball at the Minnesota 38, and Brian Robison recovered with 4:32 left.
“We were very confident. The fumble killed everything,” West said.
Diggs had 129 yards on seven catches on a day when Bridgewater passed for only 106 yards over the last three quarters and Adrian Peterson finished with only 60 yards on 26 carries against a Chiefs front seven that went all out to stop him.
“There was a lot of things we didn’t do well, we wish we could have back, but it’s better to talk about those things with a ‘W,’” said Peterson, who hurt the ring finger on his right hand, but said he’d be fine.
Bridgewater passed for 143 yards in the first quarter, but a smooth first drive hit a pothole on Ron Parker’s end zone interception, the first by the Chiefs in four weeks.
The Vikings appeared to have a safety three snaps later when left guard Ben Grubbs was called for holding. But referee Jerome Boger announced the infraction took place “in the field of play,” despite replays that revealed Grubbs halfway into the end zone when Smith’s third-down throw was released.
The Vikings declined the penalty to force a punt, and the yellow flags kept flying, most critically against the Chiefs. Cornerback Steven Nelson was called for roughing the passer on a third-and-6 incompletion midway through the second quarter, extending a drive that ended with Bridgewater’s short touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph that put the Vikings up 10-0.
Bridgewater finished 17 for 31, with several overthrows beyond the two that were picked off, but he found Diggs for 30 yards on third-and-15 on the drive in the fourth quarter for their final field goal.
“I think Teddy has a lot of confidence in him,” Zimmer said. “He’s got a chance to be really good.”
Shortly after Marcus Peters intercepted Bridgewater at the Kansas City 23, the Chiefs faced an all-out blitz on third-and-10. Smith turned to Wilson for a short screen pass that became a score and cut the lead to 13-10 with 8:46 left.
“They could see it was very obvious in the second half when we came alive what we can do,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “We have to stay consistent and get it.”
The Vikings’ defense did just enough to keep them in front from there.
“They got the job done for us,” Peterson said. “That’s why it’s called a team.”
Vikings at Lions
Kickoff: 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25, Ford Field, Detroit
Records: Lions 1-5, Vikings 3-2
Line: Vikings by 3
Series: Vikings lead 70-36-2