With their starters resting, the Minnesota Vikings struggled in their preseason opener, falling to the Denver Broncos 33-6 on Saturday afternoon.
The Vikings announced that most of their starters would sit out Saturday's game as they evaluated their backups. The results were not pretty and led to one of the worst preseason losses of the Mike Zimmer era.
The rough afternoon began when Dakota Dozier held Shamar Stephen in the end zone, resulting in a safety to put the Broncos on the board. On the following possession, Cameron Dantzler and Camryn Bynum got crossed up on their assignments and allowed an 80-yard touchdown from Drew Lock to K.J. Hamler.
After Greg Joseph put the Vikings on the board with a 34-yard field goal, Lock threw his second touchdown of the day to Trinity Benson to put the Broncos up 16-3.
Jake Browning made the start for the Vikings but struggled mightily, completing 5-of-10 for 31 yards including a pick-six to Patrick Surtain II.
The Broncos and Vikings exchanged field goals to make it a 26-6 lead for Denver at halftime. After allowing a 62-yard kickoff return to Levante Bellamy to open the half, Benson caught his second touchdown of the game from Teddy Bridgewater to extend the Broncos' lead.
The rest of the game belonged to Kellen Mond, who was the 66th overall pick in last April's draft. Mond looked raw in his debut but almost threw a touchdown in the third quarter to Whop Phylor before he lost control.
The Vikings also got a solid performance from undrafted running back A.J. Rose. After Kene Nwangwu suffered a knee injury on the opening kickoff, Rose shouldered the load, finishing 25 carries for 100 yards.
Still, there wasn't much for the Vikings to be happy about as they were dominated by the Broncos. The Vikings' starters will likely return when they host the Indianapolis Colts on Aug. 21.