At this time last week, we as Minnesota Vikings fans were flying high. The offense had really put together a great game against a very good St. Louis Rams defense. The Vikings' defense. . .coming off a year where they were the worst in the NFL in points allowed. . .had completely smothered an overmatched offense. Cordarrelle Patterson was on his way to becoming the new face of the franchise (and it's still entirely possible that he is). Yes, life in purple and gold country was good.
And then, we turned into Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne.
This week was awful all around. More specifically, this weekend was awful all around. We've been over everything that's happened with Adrian Peterson ad nauseum, so let's just stick with what happened on the field on Sunday.
First off, if you're surprised by the way Matt Cassel played today, you haven't been paying attention. Cassel is, quite frankly, seemingly incapable of putting together two consecutive above-average starts. He played a pretty solid game in St. Louis in Week 1, and he followed that up by being absolutely putrid against the Patriots. Three of his interceptions were nowhere close to being completions, and the fourth was yet another deflected pass, which seems to happen to Cassel much more frequently than it should happen to a guy that stands 6'4". He's going to start next week against New Orleans. If he puts together another clunker like he did today, I expect that he would end up finding the bench the following week when the Atlanta Falcons come to town.
Second. . .yes, this team allowed 30 points today. The Patriots' offense had two touchdown drives, one of which covered one yard following Cassel's first interception. (The other was 61 yards.) The three drives where the Patriots scored field goals were 40, 17, and 46 yards. Plus they got a huge blocked field goal at the end of the first half that pretty much squashed any momentum the Vikings could have had flat. Had Blair Walsh made the field goal, the score likely would have been 17-10 at the half. After the block, scoop, and score, it was 24-7. That's a huge difference. The defense certainly wasn't as good as they were against St. Louis, but I also don't think they were the disaster they might appear to be on the surface.
The Patriots did everything they could to give the Vikings a chance in this game. Do you realize that the Patriots were penalized FIFTEEN TIMES on Sunday for a total of 163 yards? And they still managed to beat the Vikings by 23 points.
Back to the offensive game plan. . .don't get me wrong, I'm still a big fan of NORV~! and everything, but help me understand this.
You don't have Adrian Peterson. You have one of the most dynamic playmakers in the NFL in Cordarrelle Patterson. He's incredibly effective when he lines up in the backfield and gets the ball that way. And, even though you used it effectively on the Vikings' first drive of the afternoon as a misdirection tactic, Patterson ends up touching the ball just four times on the afternoon, and zero times out of the backfield.
What the heck, NORV~!? How can you do that? Give the man the ball and let him work.
Speaking of draft picks. . .Matt Kalil. Come on. The guy obviously has all the potential and ability in the world, but he gets flat-out beaten way too much for a guy that was a #4 overall pick in the NFL Draft. It seemed like whoever the Patriots were lining up over him today was getting to Cassel in the backfield. Cassel's interceptions were, by and large, on him, but it certainly couldn't have helped knowing that he didn't know if he was going to get crushed from behind on any given play.
Yes, taking a loss the way the Minnesota Vikings did on Sunday is disheartening. But the New England Patriots are really, really good. Frankly, this could very well be the best team that the Vikings face all year. It's pretty clear their Week 1 flop against the Dolphins was an anomaly (particularly given the way the Dolphins themselves looked against the suddenly resurgent Bills on Sunday), and reports of Tom Brady's demise appear to have been greatly exaggerated.
Regardless of what happens the rest of the afternoon and evening today, with the Detroit Lions falling to the Carolina Panthers today, the Vikings will finish Week 2 no worse than tied for first in what appears to be a wide-open NFC North.
This one hurts, that's for sure. But hey. . .at least this upcoming week will be better.
To buy tickets, visit the NFL Ticket Exchange.