Bills top Vikings late, 27-23, in preseason finale
By John Wawrow
AP Sports Writer
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Undrafted rookie Tyree Jackson hit David Sills for an 8-yard touchdown pass with 8 seconds left in rallying the Buffalo Bills to a 27-23 win over the Minnesota Vikings to close the preseason Thursday night.
Victor Bolden recovered Jackson’s fumble in the end zone and Marcus Murphy scored on a 79-yard punt return as the Bills scored three touchdowns in the final 3:53 to overcome a 23-6 deficit. The Bills finished 4-0 for the first unbeaten preseason in team history.
Minnesota receiver Laquon Treadwell caught all three passes directed his way for 30 yards in what could be the 2016 first-round draft pick’s final appearance with the Vikings. While the Vikings rested their starters, Treadwell played the entire first half amid speculation he could be traded or cut by Saturday, when NFL teams are required to set their 53-player rosters. Treadwell has been passed on the depth chart by Chad Beebe, Jordan Taylor and Jeff Badet after three mostly unproductive seasons since the Vikings selected him with the 23rd pick in 2016.
Third-string quarterback Kyle Sloter hit Ameer Abdullah for a 15-yard touchdown pass, and De’Angelo Henderson scored on a 3-yard run for the Vikings (3-1).
Treadwell caught Sloter’s first attempt for 14 yards and also converted a third down by making a 9-yard catch on a crossing pattern. He finished the preseason with eight catches for 89 yards.
Jackson, who spent his college career at Buffalo, capped the comeback by hitting Sills on a crossing pattern over the middle. Jackson finished 22 of 33 for 175 yards, and had a team-best 78 yards rushing in playing the entire game.
Even better news for Buffalo came when general manager Brandon Beane announced starting center Mitch Morse has been cleared to play after spending the past month in the NFL’s concussion protocol. Morse was Buffalo’s key free agent addition in the team’s offseason bid to overhaul its offensive line. He spent the past two weeks allowed to practice while still in the protocol. Aside from being diagnosed with the concussion on July 31, Morse missed a majority of the team’s spring practices recovering from surgery to repair a core muscle injury.
Stephen Hauschka, a day after signing a two-year contract extension, and Scott McLaughlin both hit 54-yard field goals for Buffalo.
The Vikings’ kicking competition continued tilting decisively toward Dan Bailey keeping his job and against Kaare Vedvik.
Acquired by Minnesota for a fifth-round pick from Baltimore in a trade earlier this summer, Vedvik has mostly struggled. A week after missing from 43 and 54 yards, Vedvik pushed a 37-yard field goal attempt wide right against Buffalo. He finally connected on a 27-yarder in the final minute of first half.
Vedvik, who is also challenging Matt Wile for the punting duties, punted twice, including a 45-yarder which Murphy returned for a score.
Bailey took over the placekicking duties in the second half and hit 43- and 54-yard field goal attempts.
Sloter finished 16 of 24 for 163 yards, including floating a deep pass intended for Dillon Mitchell that was easily intercepted by Lafayette Pitts.
Jake Browning took over late in the third quarter and finished 8 of 10 for 46 yards and an interception.
Hours before the game, the Bills dealt second-year offensive guard Wyatt Teller and a 2021 seventh-round draft pick to Cleveland for 2020 fifth- and sixth-round picks. Teller was a fifth-rounder and started the final seven games at left guard last year. He was the odd man out after Buffalo spent the offseason overhauling its line in free agency and the draft.
Teller’s departure potentially opens a spot for versatile lineman Ryan Bates, acquired in a trade with Philadelphia three weeks ago.
MAKING THE CUT?
Beane praised receiver Duke Williams’ preseason performance on the Bills’ telecast, but stopped short of saying the former CFL star has made the team.
“He’s earned everything he’s got,” Beane said of Williams, a free agent addition. “When the ball’s in the air, I’ll take him over about anybody, he’s going to find a way to come down with it.”
Beane would only say Williams is “definitely in the mix” for one of the team’s final few receiver spots.
Vikings: Open season hosting Atlanta on Sept. 8.
Bills: Open season at New York Jets on Sept. 8.