Stock up, stock down in Vikings’ loss to the Bengals

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The Vikings had a winnable game in Week 1. But now the team is left trying to assess what went wrong.

Cincinnati upset Minnesota 27-24 on Sunday in overtime. The Vikings looked good at times, but made too many costly mistakes to really even deserve to win at the end.

Overall, there are a lot of things the Vikings can improve on in Week 2. Here is the stock up, stock down from the Week 1 loss:

Stock up: DT Michael Pierce

Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Michael Pierce (58) celebrates after sacking Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow in the third quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Cincinnati. (Andrew Souffle/Star Tribune via AP)

Vikings fans finally got to see their elite pass-rushing defensive lineman after not being able to in 2020. That's right, folks, I mean nose tackle Michael Pierce. OK, so DE Danielle Hunter was back as well, but Pierce was the one who raised his stock. The Vikings nose guard had two sacks against the Bengals after having just 3.5 in his career. Hunter also had a good game with two pressures and a sack, per PFF, but I think Pierce was the one who surprised some people in the pass rush on Sunday.

Stock down: CB Bashaud Breeland

Sep 12, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (85) is defended by Minnesota Vikings defensive back Bashaud Breeland (21) during the second quarter at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings signed Breeland late in the offseason. Breeland seemed poised for at least a key spot in the cornerback rotation, maybe even a starting position. He ended up being named a starter out wide, but so far he has been inconsistent. Breeland missed five tackles and finished with a PFF grade of 26.0. His lowlight came in single coverage on a deep ball to Ja'Marr Chase, where Chase ended up getting his first career touchdown reception.

Stock up: P Jordan Berry

Minnesota Vikings punter Jordan Berry (3) punts out of the end zone in the first quarter during an NFL Week 1 football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati Syndication: The Enquirer.

The Vikings signed Berry because they were looking for someone with a big leg, according to Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer. Berry showcased that leg on Sunday. He averaged 50.3 yards per punt and had a long of 63. He even kept the Vikings in the game by pinning the Bengals deep in their own territory during overtime.

Stock down: CB Mackensie Alexander

Minnesota Vikings cornerback Mackensie Alexander (24) in action during an NFL preseason football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021 in Minneapolis. Indianapolis won 12-10. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

The Vikings reunited with Alexander this offseason. Alexander was a competent nickel corner for the team in the past, and he maybe was Minnesota's best cornerback in 2019. But against the Bengals, he did not look great: he finished with a PFF grade of 39.6. He also dropped an interception that went up in the air and ended up being caught by a Bengals player for a gain of yards.

Stock up: K Greg Joseph

Minnesota Vikings place kicker Greg Joseph lines up a field goal attempt during the first half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs Friday, Aug. 27, 2021, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

Joseph's two misses in the preseason came on field goals from over 50 yards. In the regular season, he was tested right away in that area, having to make a 53-yard field goal with the game on the line. Joseph made the kick to send the game into overtime. He also made all of his extra points. Like Berry, Joseph had a good debut for Minnesota.

Stock down: The new-look defense

Aug 21, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer looks on during the second quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings added so many players to the defense this offseason, some thought it would be the strong point of the team now. But just like in 2020, Minnesota's defense held them back. The Vikings gave up 27 points to the Bengals. Cincinnati QB Joe Burrow looked stellar, throwing for 261 passing yards, two touchdowns and no picks. The Vikings defensive line looked better than it did this past season, but it may have even had a down performance against the Bengals offensive line.

Stock up: WR K.J. Osborn

Sep 12, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn (17) runs after the catch during the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Osborn earned the wide receiver three role this offseason, and he proved why on Sunday. He had 76 receiving yards, which included a nice play on third-and-long to pick up the first down. He finished with a PFF grade of 63.0.

Stock down: The Vikings offensive line

Minnesota Vikings center Garrett Bradbury (56) with teammates Ezra Cleveland (72) and Rashod Hill (69) on the field during the first half an NFL preseason football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021 in Minneapolis. Indianapolis won 12-10. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

Heading into 2021, Minnesota arguably had a worse offensive line than it did in 2020. That said, I don't think people expected the group to be as bad as it was. According to The Ringer's Benjamin Solak, the Vikings had six offensive holding calls. The team also had seven procedural penalties, though some of those were from players not on the offensive line. The Bengals sacked Kirk Cousins three times and also had eight QB hits.

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