NFL Nation: Adrian Peterrson

LONDON -- My thoughts on the Minnesota Vikings 34-27 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Wembley Stadium.

What it means: In short, the Vikings' season isn't over. They're 1-3 headed into their bye week, and where an 0-4 record would have killed their season, a win at least gives them a little life headed into their bye week. The game might have also prompted a quarterback change (more on that in a minute) after Matt Cassel led the Vikings to victory and the defense managed not to blow a late lead for the third week in a row.

Stock watch: Rising -- Cassel. In his first start for the Vikings, Cassel did more than fill in admirably for Christian Ponder, who missed the game with a rib injury. He might have made the Vikings think seriously about making a permanent switch at the position once they return from their bye week. Cassel hit 16 of his 25 throws for 248 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He had the confidence to pull the trigger on throws over the middle that Ponder has been loath to attempt. He turned Greg Jennings into a factor, letting the receiver run after the catch on a quick throw that Jennings turned into a 70-yard touchdown. And Cassel was sacked once a week after the Cleveland Browns took Ponder down six times.

Peterson breaks out: Adrian Peterson had his best game of the season, romping for a 60-yard touchdown in the second quarter and gaining 140 yards to go with a pair of TDs. He looked more comfortable with Jerome Felton back, and Peterson got a key block from quarterback-turned-receiver Joe Webb, of all people, on the touchdown run. Peterson also helped the Vikings get an early lead, which was so important to the team in its 10-6 season last year.

Front four hassles Roethlisberger: The Vikings' pass rush had its best game of the season, with Jared Allen getting two sacks of his own and sharing a third with Sharrif Floyd, and Chad Greenway notching one on a blitz. Minnesota's depleted secondary had issues before injuries to Chris Cook and Jamarca Sanford, and Josh Robinson struggled at times on Sunday, but the Vikings' defense has always been about their pass rush getting enough pressure to mask any issues behind them. They were able to do that on Sunday, and with the Vikings in danger of allowing a last-minute touchdown for the third week in a row, Everson Griffen and Greenway sacked Ben Roethlisberger and forced a fumble that Kevin Williams recovered.

What's next: The Vikings get an early bye week after their long week in London before returning to Mall of America Field on Oct. 13 to take on the Carolina Panthers.
WATFORD, England -- Defensive back Chris Cook didn't practice again for the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday, walking out to the team's practice field in England without pads, and the possibility of the cornerback missing Sunday's game seems to be increasing.

Cook left last Sunday's game early with a groin strain, and he had a groin injury in the Vikings' third preseason game against San Francisco. He was hopeful he would be able to practice on Friday, but if he can't, the Vikings would likely rule him out for Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"The fact that he's not able to practice today leads you to believe it may be difficult tomorrow," Frazier said. "He wants to try tomorrow, so we'll see."

The Vikings got safety Jamarca Sanford and cornerback A.J. Jefferson back at practice in a limited capacity on Thursday, but it remains to be seen if they'd have either player healthy on Sunday. Frazier said the Vikings would likely have to add a cornerback to their roster if Cook and Jefferson were both out, since they would only have three healthy cornerbacks in that scenario. The easiest move -- especially considering the team is in London -- would be to elevate Robert Steeples from the practice squad, but general manager Rick Spielman said yesterday that assistant GM George Paton is still in Minnesota to give the Vikings a front-office member in the U.S. this week in case they needed to make a roster move, so it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility that the Vikings could sign someone and fly him to England for Sunday's game.

Looking at the rest of the Vikings' injury report:
  • Quarterback Christian Ponder was limited again because of his rib injury, but backup Matt Cassel said Ponder did the majority of the work on Thursday, and Ponder said he was comfortable playing with extra padding on his ribs. We've got more on that situation here.
  • Running back Adrian Peterson was limited because of a coach's decision on Thursday, but Frazier has built in breaks for the running back before, and it's probably safe to assume that's what happened here, especially since if Peterson had an injury, it would be listed on the injury report.
  • Running back Matt Asiata (hamstring) returned to full participation on Thursday.
  • Tight end Rhett Ellison (knee) was out of practice again.
  • Defensive tackle Kevin Williams (knee) was limited, and linebacker Erin Henderson (heel) and long snapper Cullen Loeffler (neck) were again full participants.

QB Watch: Vikings' Christian Ponder

September, 25, 2013
A weekly analysis of the Minnesota Vikings' quarterback play:

Rewind: Christian Ponder went 25-for-42 against the Cleveland Browns, throwing for 228 yards, but once again, the third-year quarterback wasn't able to put four quarters together. He threw for just 63 yards in the second half in the loss to the Browns, missing an open Greg Jennings on a throw that could have put the game away, and got booed on a number of occasions at the Metrodome as the Vikings were unable to put the Browns away. Ponder, as it turns out, was playing with a rib injury he sustained early in the game; he finished the contest, but his status for Sunday's game against the Steelers could be in jeopardy.

Fast-forward: The Pittsburgh Steelers team Ponder would face Sunday isn't the imposing defense he would have seen in previous years, but the Steelers can still throw some confusing looks at Ponder with their 3-4 defense and Troy Polamalu roaming the secondary. Ponder might get some help this week with Pro Bowl fullback Jerome Felton returning to block for Adrian Peterson (and presumably take some of the load off the Vikings' passing game), but he will still have to diagnose the Steelers' defense on the fly and avoid the mistakes he has made so far this season, when he has thrown five interceptions.

Cassel lurking: It was telling how much more confident Ponder was about his ability to play through injury than coach Leslie Frazier was willing to be Wednesday morning. Players are typically more willing to say they're able to play through injury than coaches are to grant them that privilege, but Ponder might also know that if Matt Cassel takes a start from him, the backup quarterback might not give the job back. Cassel struggled in the preseason and is coming off two poor seasons in Kansas City, but he is a former Pro Bowler who might give the Vikings a change of pace. If Cassel plays Sunday and gives the Vikings a spark heading into their bye week, it will be extremely telling what Frazier does next.

Prediction: Ponder was still able to throw in the portion of practice open to the media Wednesday, and the guess here is he starts Sunday against the Steelers at Wembley Stadium. But don't expect a big game from him, especially with Felton back to help Peterson. Look for him to post something in the neighborhood of 175 yards, as the Vikings ask him to keep them out of trouble and help them get their first win as they head into the bye week.