On a day when the Minnesota Vikings celebrated the 'All Mall of America Field' team, it was fitting, in many ways, that almost 50 points would be put on the board. After all, an all time team that has Daunte Culpepper, Robert Smith, Adrian Peterson, Anthony Carter, Cris Carter, and Randy Moss on it could hang 50 on damn near anyone.
The thing is, if you told me somebody was going to score almost 50 Sunday, the last team I would've picked would have been the Walking Wounded version of the Vikings. Adrian Peterson was out, Toby Gerhart was out, Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson were out. And that was just the offense. On defense, it was almost as bad, and what the Vikings fielded on Sunday was an amalgamation of second stringers, practice squad refugees, and NFL journeymen. It was a game that felt like the Vikings had virtually no chance to win.
Yet, they cruised 48-30. The NFL, go figure. It was the most gratifying win in almost a year, since the last game of the regular season last year. And for one day, at least, the most high powered offense in the NFL belongs to the Minnesota Vikings. Instead of the Eagles flying high, it was the Vikings. Flying like the Eagles. To the sea. DO YOU SEE WHAT I JUST DID THERE STEVE MILLER?
Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin'
Into the future
Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin'
Into the future
I want to fly like an eagle
To the sea
Fly like an eagle
Let my spirit carry me
I want to fly like an eagle
Till I'm free
Oh, Lord, through the revolution
You're SMR that keeps slippin', slippin, slippin' into the future follows.
Blue Chip Stocks:
Matt Cassel, Gunslinger: Matt Cassel was phenomenal against the Eagles, throwing for 382 yards, two TD's, and he even ran one in from six yards out. It was the best performance from the quarterback position since the Brett Favre era, and it kind of makes you wonder what might have been this year, if only the Vikings had good QB play. For one day, anyway, we saw what could be, as Cassel flew out of the gate 9/9, including a beautiful step up in the pocket, 57 yard bean to Greg Jennings for a score. He also kept his cool after he threw a tipped pass that turned in to an interception and a Philly TD drive, and lead the Vikes down the field for 21 fourth quarter points. Let me say that again...21 fourth quarter points.
Greg Jennings, WR: Every time Matt Cassel plays, it seems Greg Jennings has a good game. Sunday, he had his best day as a Viking, hauling in 11 balls for 163 yards, and a 57 yard TD. For a good part of the season, it seemed that Jennings was on his way to being a free agent bust, but apparently, all he needed was a QB with a pulse to get him the ball.
Matt Asiata, RB: If you started Matt Asiata on your fantasy team, you're either the geekiest of the geeky fantasy football owner, an idiot who fell into a barrel full of dicks and came out with a tit in his mouth, or a liar. No one saw Asiata's three TD performance coming, but let's not get too carried away with this. Why? Because he had 30 carries, and his other 27 were pretty terrible. His three TD runs netted seven yards, his other 27 garnered 44. That's 30 carries for 51 yards, pretty forgettable if you take out the three scores. In an ode to Leroy Hoard, another Vikings running back who wore the number 44, Matt Asiata's M.O. is "if you need one, he'll get you one. If you need two, he'll get you one." But still, three TD's is three TD's.
Shaun Prater, CB: If there was a good thing about all the injuries in the Vikings secondary, it gave them an opportunity to see what a guy like Shawn Prater could do. I really liked him coming out of Iowa, and I was happy to see that the Vikes had signed him awhile back. Against his former team, he had an interception, but to me, that wasn't his most impressive play. Fairly early in the second quarter, the Vikings had a 10-3 lead and the Eagles had the ball at the Minnesota 41. Prater had been beaten by Riley Cooper on a deep route, and Cooper was open inside the Vikes five. He caught the ball, but had to jump for it. Prater had the foresight to stay with the play and knock Cooper out of bounds. Instead of first and goal, it was an incomplete pass. But don't get me wrong, that pick was sweet. And more than Chris Cook has ever had, so there's that.
Robert Blanton, 3rd degree burn victim: If there is a bad thing about all the injuries in the Vikings secondary, it's playing guys like Blanton out of position. A safety converted to cornerback, Blanton was torched all game. He was the back responsible on two of the three Nick Foles TD passes, and DeSean Jackson abused him all game long. It was like putting Josh Robinson back in the slot again, and it was as bad as you could imagine.
Buy: Leslie Frazier losing his job. As good as this performance was, I still don't see it being enough for Leslie Frazier to remain as head coach when the season ends. Yes, the Vikings are playing hard, and that's a strong sign that Frazier hasn't lost the locker room. But still, the NFL is a win now business, and the Vikings aren't. As a matter of fact, if Jason LaCanfora is to be believed, the Vikings are already putting out feelers to Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien. Regardless of how these last two games turn out, I don't see a scenario where Frazier returns.
Sell: Rick Spielman losing his job. I still think Rick Spielman gets one more year, though. We can say unequivocally that he whiffed on Ponder, and a lot of folks might think that in and of itself is a fireable offense. Although I respect that opinion, when you look at his entire body of work, to include draft, trades, and free agent acquisitions, I think he gets one more year. But Rick, please, whatever you do: HIRE AN INDEPENDENT QUARTERBACK TALENT EVALUATOR, okay? Okay.
Buy: Cordarrelle Patterson, playmaker. I am loving this kid more and more. He dropped a catchable TD pass, but he caught another one, and he made a couple heads up, find the first down marker and move the chains plays today. He's the most feared kick returner in the NFL, as the Eagles conceded field position by squib kicking all day.
Sell: Cordarrelle Patterson and his lack of 'football IQ', whatever the hell that is. Two or three times Fox analyst Darrell 'Moose' Johnston talked about Patterson being basically dumber than a bag of hammers when it comes to knowing anything about football. Seriously, I'm surprised that he could tie his cleats or buckle his chin strap. And he wore his jersey on backwards, too. Until, you know, Patterson took that end around and turned a seven yard loss into a nine yard gain, or how he repeatedly knew where the first down marker was on a couple of critical third down plays and got the first down before he was forced out of bounds. Naturally, Johnston bleated his 'football IQ' comment right after CP did something, you know, incredibly heads up and jump up and down in your seat exciting, so yeah. Every. Time. Whatever, Moose.
Buy: Passing a law that forces Vikings to play backup QB's against the Eagles. Do you guys want to know something interesting? DO YOU YES OF COURSE YOU DO. Arif tweeted out this little nugget of deliciousness after the game:
That's right, kids. Guys like Matt Cassel, Joe Webb, Gary Cuozzo, and Bob Lee have been bitch slapping the Eagles since Vietnam. And no, Arif wasn't in jail jail. He was in Twitter jail. You get pizza, free pop, and all the alcohol you can stomach in Twitter jail, from what I hear.
Sell: Annointing Matt Cassel the starter next year. As great as Cassel's performance was today, he's not the quarterback of the future for this team. Now, between Ponder, Cassel, and Freeman, if you give me one guy to bring back to this team in 2014, it's Cassel. He knew that in coming to Minnesota he was coming in to be a backup and a mentor, and he embraced that role. I would have no problem rolling with Cassel, drafting a new guy, and letting them compete next year in training camp. He's been nothing but a pro's pro this year, and an asset to the Vikings. The only requirement that I have for him is to keep the fu manchu porn stache. That thing rocks, donchaknow.
Buy: Wondering where this version of the Vikings has been all season. In frustrating seasons like this, it seems that the Vikings have one or two games like this, and you think to your self 'man, if only...'. Again, going back to Cassel--as good as he was today, I seriously doubt that he would've been this good all year (OH HAI CAROLINA GAME HOW R U), BUT...this offense didn't fold like a wet cardboard box after a little adversity and an opposing score late in the game. They were still able to move the ball, score TD's, and put the game away. Would the Vikings have a better record? I don't know. But I still wonder.
Sell: Getting angry about a win and subsequent drop in the draft order. Even though this is a crummy season, I still thoroughly enjoyed this win. My Dad and I were hootin' and hollerin', and after the game he said...well, I'll save that for the quote of the week. Still, I never understand why fans think current players, who are playing for pride and a possible paycheck going in to next year, think that these guys would tank it for a higher draft position. So the team can draft someone they've never met. Oh, and they might be unemployed the following year, too.
Don Glover Quote of the Week:
So my Dad and I really enjoyed this game. From the opening drive, through the 'here we go again' moment after the Cassel pick and immediate Philly TD, my Dad had some good ones. I put some of them on Twitter, so feel free to look them up. But after the game was in the bag and we exchanged high fives, he said:
"Son, this is the first game I've really enjoyed from beginning to end this year. Great win. Still need to fire Frazier, though."
Couldn't agree more, Dad. With everything.
So the Vikes move to 4-9-1, and as Fearless Leader said in his triumphant return to the blog, this win eliminated the Vikings from the #1 overall pick. And I couldn't be happier about that.