Sunday, December 29, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Minnesota Vikings
By Ben Goessling
MINNEAPOLIS -- A few thoughts on the Minnesota Vikings' 14-13 win against the Detroit Lions:
What it means: Neither the Vikings nor the Lions had anything to play for on Sunday, and they combined to turn in four quarters of listless football in the final game at the Metrodome. The game might have also been the last one for Lions coach Jim Schwartz and Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, who could both be fired this week. This one went to the Vikings on the strength of rookie Cordarrelle Patterson and punt returner Marcus Sherels, whose 50-yard return in the fourth quarter set up Patterson's go-ahead touchdown reception. The Vikings finish the season at 5-10-1, and while it probably won't be enough to save Frazier, it sent fans home happy on the final day at the Dome.
Stock watch: Rising: Matt Asiata. Filling in for an injured Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart, the running back ran for 114 yards on 15 carries, helping the Vikings seal the game with a 39-yard romp in the fourth quarter. If the Vikings do lose Gerhart in free agency this spring, Asiata might have shown them that they have another backup for Peterson at the ready.
Patterson breaks two records: Heading into Sunday's game, Patterson needed just 4 yards to break the Vikings' single-season kickoff return record. He missed his first opportunity to break it when he was still exhorting fans in the end zone on the Lions' opening kickoff, but he passed Buster Rhymes in the second half. That was, however, after Patterson had broken another team record. His 50-yard rushing touchdown, which came on another play where he had an option to pass, gave him three rushing TDs for the season, breaking Percy Harvin's record for single-season rushing TDs by a receiver. Patterson later added a touchdown, catching an 8-yard back-shoulder throw from Matt Cassel that looked awfully reminiscent of another receiver who wore No. 84 for the Vikings.
Allen finishes with a flourish: If this was indeed Jared Allen's final game in a Vikings uniform, he made it a memorable one. He sacked Matthew Stafford twice, ensuring he would end the season with double-digit sacks for the seventh year in a row. He also got in for a play on offense, lining up as a tight end on a second-quarter play from the Lions' 2. Allen ran a crossing route to the back of the end zone, and Cassel's pass bounced off his outstretched hand. But Allen still left the field to a standing ovation from fans.
What's next: The Vikings assured themselves the No. 8 pick in the draft this spring, where they likely will look for a new quarterback. That, and possibly finding a new coach, will be the biggest items on their offseason to-do list.