Sunday, December 15, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Minnesota Vikings
By Ben Goessling
MINNEAPOLIS -- A few thoughts on the Minnesota Vikings' 48-30 win over the Philadelphia Eagles:
What it means: With no Adrian Peterson, no Toby Gerhart and none of the Vikings' top three cornerbacks, Minnesota beat the NFC East-leading Eagles at home for its most lopsided win of the season. Makes perfect sense, right? Well, the game might have at least given credence to the idea that Matt Cassel should have been the Vikings' starting quarterback for much more of the season than he's been. Cassel threw for 382 yards, helped Greg Jennings catch a career-high 11 passes and ran for a score. His future in Minnesota -- as well as the futures of the people who saw fit to keep him on the bench for so much of the season -- are bound to be tantalizing topics after this game.
Stock watch: Rising: Cassel. His 382 passing yards were the most by a Vikings quarterback since Brett Favre was under center, and he also ran for a touchdown on what was either a called run or a play that Cassel changed at the line of scrimmage. Either way, he continued to enable Jennings like no other quarterback on the Vikings' roster, and he did it without the help of Peterson, who missed the game with a sprained right foot. There's little question Cassel will start next week against Cincinnati, and he continued to make the case he should be in the Vikings' future plans, if as nothing other than a veteran caretaker until the team gets its next young quarterback ready.
Jennings comes up big: All three of Jennings' touchdowns before Sunday had come with Cassel at quarterback, but he also added his first 100-yard game since Week 17 of the 2012 season, when Jennings was playing in the Metrodome as a member of the Green Bay Packers. His 57-yard touchdown in the first quarter was a tremendous reminder of how good Jennings can be after the catch, and his success with Cassel is another factor that could cause Vikings fans to wonder what might have been if Cassel were the starter all season.
Allen closes in on double digits -- and pulls double duty: With plenty of chances to rush the passer on Sunday, defensive end Jared Allen registered two sacks of Nick Foles, giving him nine for the season. He said this week that double-digit sacks "mean the world to me," and he's now got two games to get one more and post his seventh straight season with at least 10 sacks. He also filled in at long-snapper for the first time since 2011, snapping a punt to Jeff Locke when Cullen Loeffler went out briefly with a hand injury in the second half.
What's next: The Vikings (4-9-1) travel to Cincinnati for their final road game of the season against the Bengals on Sunday.