Rapid Reaction: Minnesota Vikings
December, 22, 2013
By Ben Goessling | ESPN.com
CINCINNATI -- A few thoughts on the Minnesota Vikings' 42-14 loss against the Cincinnati Bengals:
What it means: Whatever momentum the Vikings had created last Sunday with a win against the Philadelphia Eagles, whatever spark they had provided embattled coach Leslie Frazier as he tries to keep his job, all blew away on Sunday. The Vikings looked as lifeless as they had all season, giving up two touchdowns in each of the first three quarters, turning the ball over three times in the first half and mounting little resistance in a blowout loss. Minnesota finishes the season 0-7-1 in road games, and after a blowout loss like this, it's tough to see Frazier lasting past next Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions.
Stock watch: Falling: Chris Cook. After missing last week's game because of a knee injury, the cornerback began the game out of the Vikings' starting lineup, and when he got in the game, the Bengals went after him. Andy Dalton hit A.J. Green for a touchdown after Green beat Cook on a double move, and the Bengals completed 21- and 13-yard passes to Marvin Jones against Cook on their next drive. Dalton later found Green for a 2-yard touchdown against Cook, who was called for a pass interference penalty on the same play. Cook is a free agent after the season, and he's probably cost himself a chance at a big contract with a miserable season. If he's back with the Vikings, it will likely be because he's available at a discount.
Cassel struggles: After throwing for 382 yards last Sunday against the Eagles, quarterback Matt Cassel brought the Vikings back to their familiar realm of awful quarterbacking. He was sacked on his first dropback of the game, setting up a Bengals touchdown, and wound up throwing three interceptions on a day when he hit just 13 of his 27 passes for 114 yards. The performance was reminiscent of what Christian Ponder had done in several games this season, and while the Vikings had already announced Cassel as the starter for the final game of the season, it will be interesting to see if Frazier goes in another direction now.
Patterson's big day wasted: Rookie Cordarrelle Patterson returned four kicks for 135 yards, taking advantage of the Bengals' inability to kick the ball out of the end zone. But the Vikings wasted a day of good field position, scoring just once after starting four drives past their own 40. One of the Vikings' two touchdowns was also created by Patterson, who took a handoff and scampered 35 yards for his second rushing score of the season. With Adrian Peterson playing hurt and limited to 11 carries, Patterson finished the day as the Vikings' leading rusher.
What's next: The Vikings (4-10-1) finish the season against the Lions, in the final game at the Metrodome next Sunday.