Seventh-round picks often times live a life of anonymity when they first enter the NFL. That type of existence ended suddenly for Vikings rookie LB Audie Cole on Friday night at Mall of America Field. Intercepting a pass and returning it for a TD – twice – will do that for a guy.
That’s what Cole did late in the Vikings second preseason game of the 2012 season, right in front of thousands of Vikings fans who decided to stick around for the late stages of the exhibition game, a contest the Vikings won by count of 36-14. Even more remarkably, Cole’s two touchdowns came on back-to-back plays, increasing the Vikings lead from 22-14 to 36-14 instantaneously.
Cole’s first INT came on a 2nd and 10 play from the Buffalo 11-yardline. Former Vikings QB Tyler Thigpen dropped back and quickly threw a pass intended for WR Naaman Roosevelt, but Cole jumped the route to grab the INT and sprinted toward the goal line. Cole was tackled as he extended the ball toward the goal line, and officials ruled the play a TD. After a replay review, the call was upheld. On the ensuing Bills drive, Brad Smith replaced Thigpen at QB and Cole intercepted his first pass, another quick throw intended for Roosevelt. This time Cole sprinted to the end zone uncontested and was greeted by a throng of teammates in the back of the end zone.
“To see Audie do what he did, that’s a big deal,” Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said. “You could see the jubilation from his teammates. Everybody on the team was in the end zone with him on that second one. It’s pretty impressive. We’re excited for him.”
Frazier also astutely pointed out that Cole has a knack for the big play, referencing the sack Cole registered last week against the San Francisco 49ers in his NFL debut.
The general takeaway from Friday night’s game will be how sharp the Vikings first-team offense looked, with QB Christian Ponder going 10 of 13 for 136 yards with a TD and RB Toby Gerhart rushing for 30 yards on 6 carries. But for the late part of the 4th quarter, anyway, it was Cole who stole the show.
Tags: Audie Cole, Leslie Frazier
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