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Kellen Mond Throws Two TD Passes as Vikings Fall to Raiders in Preseason Opener

There were some solid individual performances from the Vikings, but the offense mostly struggled.
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A Vikings team debuting new players, coaches, and schemes on both sides of the ball spent the first half of Sunday's preseason opener looking, somewhat unsurprisingly, like a sloppy mess. 

Second-year quarterback Kellen Mond threw two second-half touchdown passes to make things interesting in the first preseason game of the Kevin O'Connell era, but it wasn't enough as the Vikings fell 26-20 to the Raiders at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

Sean Mannion got the start at quarterback for the Vikings and struggled to put much together, finishing 8 of 12 for 79 yards. The offense punted on its first two possessions and stalled out in the red zone on the next two, settling for short field goals. The Raiders, who scored on their first two drives, took a 10-6 lead into halftime.

Mond got off to a fairly slow start as well. He wasn't sharp right away with his decision-making or accuracy, but he turned it on in the second half with a pair of touchdown passes to veteran Albert Wilson. Mond's final line was strong: 9 of 14 for 119 yards, two touchdowns, and no turnovers. Despite some plays he'd like to have back, this was a step in the right direction for Mond, who outplayed Mannion and put himself into the driver's seat in the competition at backup quarterback.

Mond's first NFL touchdown pass — he didn't have any in last year's preseason — came on a two-yard slant to Wilson. It was set up by a 22-yard pass from Mond to Dan Chisena on fourth down. That cut the Raiders' lead to three, but Las Vegas responded with a 10-0 run to go back up by multiple possessions.

The second scoring strike from Mond to Wilson was even better. It was a perfect throw for a 20-yard score and demonstrated tangible in-game progress from the young QB. Earlier in the game, Mond had Bisi Johnson open on a similar route but overthrew him. That he made the correct adjustment on the throw to Wilson is a good sign.

That throw capped a fantastic drive from Mond. He hit Myron Mitchell for gains of 21 and 16 yards to begin the series, then found rookie Jalen Nailor for 16 more yards to help set up the scoring strike.

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The Vikings' defense couldn't come up with a stop late in the game to get the ball back to their offense, and the Raiders ran out the clock on their second victory in two preseason games.

O'Connell and the Vikings played over half of their starters for a couple series to begin the game. Defensive tackles Harrison Phillips and Dalvin Tomlinson looked good against the run and Tomlinson set up a Phillips sack with a nice pass rush move. Armon Watts also had a sack, while journeyman T.Y. McGill Jr. had two of them.

The Vikings showed off their impressive depth at running back in this game. Dalvin Cook didn't play and Alexander Mattison had just three carries, but the players in the third and fourth spots on the depth chart were excellent. Kene Nwangwu finished with 59 yards from scrimmage on 9 touches, showing off his speed and some unexpected power. Rookie Ty Chandler was perhaps even better, racking up 50 yards on five carries and adding a 56-yard kickoff return. Both Nwangwu and Chandler were electric with the ball in their hands. Cook is getting older and Mattison is a free agent after this year, but the Vikings' future at running back is bright with Nwangwu and Chandler on the roster.

This was a solid debut for O'Connell as a head coach and play-caller. The Vikings finished with 300 yards of offense on 50 plays for an even six yards per play. They were just 1 for 7 on third down and struggled with red zone execution in the first half, but the offense was solid overall. They ran the ball well and used play action effectively, and Mond got going in the second half.

There were plenty of positives to take away from this game for the Vikings, including the play of rookies Brian Asamoah and Ed Ingram. There's also a lot that needs work. Tackling, penalties, and special teams were all issues. The Vikings committed eight penalties for 71 yards, including a couple that extended drives. 

This week, the Vikings will host the 49ers for joint practices on Wednesday and Thursday, leading up to a game between the two at U.S. Bank Stadium on Saturday.

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