Baron Browning’s 17-yard fumble return for a touchdown after McTelvin Agim’s strip-sack of Sean Mannion highlighted the Denver Broncos’ 23-13 preseason win over the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday night.
Both teams rested their starters in the final tune-up for the season.
Browning, whom the Broncos (2-1) moved from inside linebacker to the edge this year, stunted up the middle and nearly pried the ball from Mannion’s grasp himself as he swept past him.
Agim was right there to slap the ball out as he wrapped up Mannion from behind for a 10-yard sack. Browning reached back, grabbed the ball with his right hand and zipped into the end zone to give Denver a 17-7 lead with less than a minute left in the first half.
Mannion got the Vikings, who went winless in the preseason, to midfield for Greg Joseph’s 46-yard field goal as time expired, cutting Minnesota’s deficit to 17-10 at halftime.
Joseph’s 58-yarder five seconds into the fourth quarter made it 17-13 and the Vikings were driving again when safety rookie safety Dalarrin Turner-Yell returned from a concussion check to sack Kellen Mond on fourth-and-goal from the Denver 5.
Brandon McManus capped the scoring with a pair of field goals.
With Kirk Cousins sitting out again, Mannion was 9-of-16 for 121 yards and Mond went 10 for 17 for 102 yards in the second half.
Like Cousins, Russell Wilson didn’t play at all in the preseason. Brett Rypien was 14 for 21 for 137 yards in the first half and Josh Johnson threw for 107 yards on 11-of-14 passing.
None of the four QBs had a touchdown pass.
Wilson dressed out in full pads and even put on his eye black to watch the action from the sideline with Denver’s other resting starters were decked out in street clothes.
Rypien drove the Broncos to the Minnesota 8 on Denver’s opening possession but his throw over the middle to K.J. Hamler on first-and-goal was tipped by Myles Dorn and intercepted by Luiji Vilain.
Johnson drove Denver on a pair of drives that ended in field goals. McManus’ 40-yarder made it 20-13 with 3:19 remaining.
That’s when Denver’s defense, which collected five sacks, showed up again.
Rookie Nik Bonnito recorded consecutive sacks of Mond, Agim batted down his fourth-and-27 pass with 2:07 remaining, and Denver took over at the Vikings 8. McManus added a 31-yard field goal in the waning seconds.
Minnesota’s first touchdown came on Bryant Koback’s carry on fourth-and-goal from the 1. Officials initially ruled he was stuffed by Turner-Yell but the Vikings won the challenge, giving them a 7-3 lead.
Montrell Washington’s 11-yard TD on a reverse gave Denver the lead for good at 10-7.
The Broncos have been dreadful on special teams for several years and things didn’t look much different Saturday night as returner Jalen Virgil muffed the opening kickoff, knocking the ball out of bounds at the 2.
In the third quarter, Broncos snapper Jacob Bobenmoyer inexplicably carried the ball several yards across the goal line for a touchback that left punter Sam Martin perplexed as to why he didn’t just down the ball inside the 10.
Kendall Hinton also allowed a punt to bounce all the way to his own 2, where it was downed by Minnesota, resulting in a 68-yard punt by Ryan Wright.
Vikings: DL T.Y. McGill Jr. (ankle) and LB Troy Dye (foot) both were injured in the first quarter and didn’t return. WR Jalen Nailor was ruled out with a concussion early in the third quarter. WR Bisi Johnson left shortly thereafter with a knee injury.
Broncos: WR Brandon Johnson left in the first quarter with an ankle injury and didn’t return.
The Vikings open the season at home against rival Green Bay on Sept. 11.
The Broncos open at Seattle in Wilson’s homecoming on Monday, Sept. 12.