Chip Scoggins is a Star Tribune sports columnist. He has temporarily returned to cover the Minnesota Vikings. He had the beat from 2008-2011 after covering college football for five years. Chip has been with the Star Tribune since January 2000. He can be followed on twitter at @chipscoggins.Find Chip on Facebook.
Mark Craig has covered football and the NFL the past 20 years, including the Browns from 1991-95 and the Vikings and the NFL since 2003. Since 2008, Craig has served as one of the 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. He can be followed on Twitter at @markcraignfl.
Washington has a 24-14 halftime lead over the Vikings at the Metrodome, scoring TDs on drives of 77, 78 and 80 yards.
The good: Vikings rookie Cordarrelle Patterson caught his first NFL TD pass, a 2-yarder from Christian Ponder.
The bad: The Vikings were unable to slow down Robert Griffin III (three touchdown passes) or RB Alfred Morris (88 rushing yards).
The ugly: The Vikings are so banged-up that they weren’t able to find 46 healthy players to dress. They were one short.
Griffin is 16-for-21 for 179 yards and has a 140.7 passer rating. Ponder is 10 of 13 for 85 yards, but had an interception on the opening drive, leading to a Washington field goal.
Adrian Peterson has 44 rushing yards on seven carries, including an 18-yard TD run.
Quick postgame keys to the Vikings’ 34-27 victory over the Steelers at Wembley Stadium.
The Cassel effect. Backup Matt Cassel got the start at quarterback because of Christian Ponder’s rib injury and was efficient and turnover free (although he got lucky on a fumble). Greg Jennings was engaged for the first time this season, and scored two touchdowns off Cassel passes. And Adrian Peterson got some more room, and ran for 140 yards.
Scary defense. The Vikings defense did enough to win, but did anyone feel comfortable late as the Steelers seemed on the verge of a comeback? Only a big play by Everson Griffen, with a sack on the final stand, saved the day.
Just in time victory. Only one team has started 0-4 and made the playoffs, so this was a must-win for the Vikings.
It's worth noting that one of the first things Coach Leslie Frazier said after the game is Ponder is his starting quarterback. So ... let the QB controversy begin.
Here are the video highlights and final stats.
The Vikings have a bye this week before playing Carolina at home on Oct. 13.
Geji McKinney will be taking plenty of hot sauce and Southern spices. Dennis Ryan is packing up 20,000 pounds of equipment. Luther Hippe has ensured every player has a passport and that ESPN will be available in the hotel.
It’s taken tremendous effort for the Vikings to prepare for their home-away-from-home game in London on Sept. 29. Friday, several members of the team’s staff—including food service director McKinney, equipment manager Ryan and director of operations/team travel Hippe—discussed some of the groundwork behind the NFL International Series game against Pittsburgh at Wembley Stadium.
The object, they said, is to keep the game-week experience as similar as possible to the normal routine. McKinney will ensure their food tastes the same, while Ryan will see that everyone has their favorite items, right down to the proper brand of coffee. Some staff members already have inspected the facilities and said everything from the hotel to the practice field is top-notch.
“I got an opportunity to fly over there in March, and the reception we got was just incredible,’’ Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said. “From the NFL and what they’ve put together, from the people of London and how supportive they were, from every venue we looked at, they just rolled out the red carpet. You can tell it’s a very important event.’’
The Vikings will take their entire staff, along with the cheerleaders and mascot. Because it is a home game, the team plans to turn Wembley into a transatlantic twin of the Metrodome, using the same banners, music and video they do at their usual home field.
Some of the special events revealed Friday include a fan rally on Regent Street, which corporate sales manager Tanya Dreesen said is expected to draw 600,000 people. There also will be a giant tailgate party at Wembley, and Gene Simmons of KISS will sing the American national anthem.
Several representatives of tourism and trade groups from Minnesota and the Twin Cities also will be on the trip, using it as a promotional opportunity.
Lester Bagley, the Vikings’ vice president of public affairs, said season-ticket holders are responding enthusiastically, and the team has sold more tickets than any other that has participated in the seven-year history of the event.
Rusty Smith hit Jack Doyle with a 2-yard touchdown pass with 26 seconds left in the first half to give Tennessee a 17-14 lead over the Vikings at the Metrodome in the teams' final preseason game tonight.
McLeod Bethel-Thompson connected with Joe Banyard for an 11-yard scoring pass two minutes before Doyle's TD to give the Vikings a short-lived 14-10 lead.
The Banyard TD came shortly after Vikings guard Seth Olsen was taken off the field on a stretcher. Olsen appeared to hit his head on the knee of a Titans player while blocking, snapping his head back a bit. Olsen was strapped to a board before being wheeled off on the stretcher, but did give a thumbs up to the crowd.
The Titans scored in the first half on a 28-yard field goal by Rob Bironas and a 17-yard pass from backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to rookie Justin Hunter. The Vikings' first touchdown came on a 1-yard run by Matt Asiata, who had eight carries for 32 yards in the opening drive.
The Vikings' offensive and defensive starters did not play. They wore their uniforms, but did not bring their helmets or shoulder pads.
The team must cut its roster from 75 to 53 by Saturday at 5 p.m. The regular season opens at Detroit on Sept. 8.
The Vikings made the biggest splash on the first night of the NFL Draft, landing defensive help with their own picks and then making a shocking trade to pick up a wide receiver.
Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd of Florida was taken at No. 23, cornerback Xavier Rhodes of Florida State was taken at No. 25, and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson of Tennessee was landed at No. 29.
Still, the circus isn't coming to town. The Vikings, in desperate need of a middle linebacker and completely in love with Notre Dame, opted not to take Notre Dame middle linebacker Manti Te'o, who you might have heard, was entangled in a bit of an embarrassing internet girlfriend hoax.
The Vikings had to trade both their Friday picks, the second and third rounders, in the Patterson deal. They also sent a fourth and seventh to New England for the talented, but troubled, wideout.
Floyd, who is 6-2 1/2, 305 pounds, can play nose tackle this year and move to under tackle next year, when Kevin Williams is expected to be done as a Viking. Williams turns 33 this August and will make a guaranteed $4.9 million in the final year of his restructured contract.
Floyd is the first defensive linemen taken by the Vikings in the first round since Williams was taken ninth overall in 2003. Floyd also is the first defensive tackle taken above the fourth round since Williams was taken 10 years ago.
Vikings GM Rick Spielman didn't wait long to replace Antoine Winfield, taking Rhodes two picks later. A big corner who some thought would go earlier seems like a decent pick that should start or at least be among the top three corners.
Spielman was holding a news conference to discuss the team's first two first-rounders when he sprinted out of the room and the trade with New England was announced a short time later.
Patterson addresses another big need after the team traded star Percy Harvin to Seattle in the offseason. He will give quarterback Christian Ponder the big, outside receiver he's been missing
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