Cassel regresses in loss to Bengals

December, 22, 2013
12/22/13
8:30
PM ET
CINCINNATI -- A week after he turned in the best game by a Minnesota Vikings quarterback since Brett Favre, Matt Cassel looked like he had a lot more in common with the Vikings' current crop of quarterbacks than with the future Hall of Famer on Sunday.

He completed just 13 of his 27 passes for 114 yards, throwing three interceptions in the Vikings' 42-14 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, and playing poorly enough to once again prompt questions about whom the Vikings will start at quarterback in their season finale against the Detroit Lions. And while coach Leslie Frazier said his "initial thoughts" are that Cassel would start, he sounded much less certain of the decision than he had the previous two weeks.

[+] EnlargeMatt Cassel
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesMatt Cassel threw three interceptions and completed fewer than half his passes Sunday in Cincinnati.
Cassel's first interception -- a short pass into a crowd created by the Vikings' bunch formation -- was returned 25 yards by the Bengals' Vincent Rey for a touchdown, and the deep shot he took on his next pass fell into the lap of the Bengals' George Iloka after it got batted in the air. Cassel also fumbled on his first dropback, setting up Cincinnati's first score, and was sacked four times.

"As good as last week was, then you come in here and it was as bad as it gets," Cassel said. "We stunk it up here, quite frankly. But they dominated us on that side of the ball and that's what happens."

Cassel was pressured on 9 of his 34 dropbacks, according to ESPN Stats & Information, and hit just one of his three pass attempts under pressure, while throwing an interception. He has burned blitzes this season, and threw for 240 yards against them last week. The Bengals didn't need to bring extra men on Sunday, but when they did, it worked to great effect. They sent more than four rushers on just four of Cassel's 35 dropbacks -- including on Rey's sack that led to the fumble -- and got two other sacks that way. With a big lead, they were able to sit back in coverage the rest of the day and let their normal pass rush go to work.

It seems unlikely the Vikings would make a quarterback switch this week, with so little at stake, though stranger things have happened with their QB situation this season. Still, Cassel squandered a chance to keep his momentum going, get the Vikings their only road win of the year and make a stronger case for his future in Minnesota.

"I would love another opportunity to get out there and play," he said. "Obviously, you want to get the taste out of your mouth. It's a bad feeling anytime you go out there and have a game like we did."

Ben Goessling

ESPN Minnesota Vikings reporter

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