Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Posts about Vikings offense

Final gun report: Ravens 29, Vikings 26

Posted by: Chris Miller Updated: December 8, 2013 - 3:30 PM

A slippery field that hampered both teams early turned the game into a track meet late.

Marlon Brown caught a 9-yard pass from Joe Flacco with nine seconds left to give the Ravens a 29-26 victory over the Vikings on Sunday in Baltimore.

There were 36 points scored in the final 2:05.

Corderrelle Patterson turned a short pass from Matt Cassel into a 79-yard touchdown with 45 seconds left to give the Vikings a 26-22 lead. But the Ravens drove down for the winning score, thanks a questionable pass interference call on Chad Greenway that nullified an Andrew Sendejo interception.

Jacoby Jones returned a pooch kick 77 yards for a touchdown with 1:16 remaining to give the Ravens a 22-19 lead as the teams combined for 29 points in a 1:20 span very late in the game.

The Vikings took a 19-15 advantage on Toby Gerhart’s 41-yard touchdown run with 1:27 left.

But Jones returned Blair Walsh’s short kick down the left sideline for a score as Walsh failed to push him out of bounds at the 35.

The Vikings then scored quickly as Patterson shocked the Ravens defense with his catch and run. As it turned out, 45 was too much time to leave the Ravens.

Snow hampered both teams for most of the game, and the Vikings lost star running back Adrian Peterson to a foot sprain in the first half. Backup Gerhart’s scoring run gave him 89 yards rushing.

The Ravens took a 15-12 lead by scoring on a 64-yard drive late in the fourth quarter.

Flacco threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Dennis Pitta with 2:05 remaining in the game to give the Ravens a 13-12 lead, and Flacco hit Torrey Smith for the two-point conversion and a 15-12 lead. The conversion was an eight-yarder after the Ravens were penalized. Pitta’s touchdown, which came on a fourth-down play, was set up by a 36-yard pass interference penalty on Robert Blanton.

The Vikings claimed their first lead at 12-7 on an 8-yard scoring pass from Cassel to Jerome Simpson early in the fourth quarter, but Cassel’s conversion pass to Greg Jennings was off target.

The Vikings had three interceptions in a game for the first time since the opening game of the season. Greenway, Sendejo and Marcus Sherels had the picks.

Final gun report: Vikings, Packers tie at Lambeau

Posted by: Chris Miller Updated: November 24, 2013 - 3:59 PM

GREEN BAY -- Neither team deserved to win.  And neither did.

The Vikings and Packers played to a 26-26 tie at Lambeau Field on Sunday.

The Vikings were in control of the game, leading 23-7 in the fourth quarter, before collapsing.

Mason Crosby’s 27-yard field goal with 50 seconds left in regulation capped the Green Bay comeback and sent the game into overtime.

Both teams kicked field goals on their first overtime possessions, and both went three-and-out on the second possessions. The Packers had the final chance, getting the ball at the Vikings’ 8 with two minutes left but got three penalties to kill their chances.

Green Bay is 5-5-1 and the Vikings are 2-8-1.

After the Packers kicked a field on the opening possession of overtime, the Vikings started at the 20, needing to at least kick a field goal to keep the game going.  They got a first down on an Adrian Peterson run, and another when Packers defensive back Morgan Burnett was flagged for defensive holding. John Carlson caught a pass for a first down, and Toby Gerhart ran up the middle for consecutive first-down runs, moving the ball to the Packers’ 13. On third down, Christian Ponder’s pass to Cordarrelle Patterson in the end zone was on target, but was tipped and Patterson couldn’t haul it in.  Blair Walsh’s 35-yard field goal tied the score at 26.

The Packers won the toss in overtime and stayed alive on a defensive holding penalty on Robert Blanton after they appeared to go three-and-out.  Jordy Nelson caught a pass from Matt Flynn to set up a first down on the Packers’ 42, then James Jones did the same for a first down at the Vikings’ 41. On the following play, Jarrett Boykin beat Chris Cook on a 34-yard catch, putting the ball at the 7. Eddie Lacy carried to the 3, then to the 2, but Flynn threw incomplete to Nelson on third-and-goal. Crosby then kicked a 20-yard field goal for a 26-23 lead.

Lacy gained 110 yards on 25 carries.

Peterson had 146 rushing yards and Gerhart added 91 for the Vikings.

The Vikings, who led 23-7 with 12 minutes to play, blew that 16-point fourth quarter lead by failing both offensively and defensively.  They gained only one first down in three fourth quarter possessions, and allowed the Packers to gain 173 yards and march downfield three times for scores. Only a failed two-point conversion prevented Green Bay from winning in regulation.

Crosby tied the game at 23-23 with 50 seconds remaining in regulation with a 27-yard field goal.

Flynn led the Packers to a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns, getting Green Bay within 23-20 with 3:30 remaining on a 6-yard touchdown pass to Jarrett Boykin. The Vikings went three-and-out, and Flynn drove Green Bay down for the tying field goal.

Blair Walsh kicked field goals of 36, 27 and 49 yards for the Vikings, who also scored on a 1-yard run by Peterson and a 12-yard pass from Ponder to Rhett Ellison.

Audie Cole led the Vikings with 13 tackles, filling in at middle linebacker for Erin Henderson, who missed the game because of undisclosed personal reasons.

Peterson, Jennings and Robison all active

Posted by: Chip Scoggins Updated: November 24, 2013 - 10:43 AM

GREEN BAY -- Adrian Peterson and Greg Jennings will play today versus the Packers after being listed as questionable on the final injury report.

Both players said this week that they intended to play and the Vikings made it official when they released their game inactives. Peterson is dealing with a groin injury, while Jennings missed the Seattle game last week because of an Achilles injury.

Defensive end Brian Robison also will play after being listed as questionable because of a neck injury. Robison suffered a muscle spasm in his neck in Thursday's practice and missed practice Friday.

Josh Freeman was declared inactive for the fifth time since joining the team in early October. Matt Cassel will serve as Christian Ponder's backup.

The rest of the Vikings inactives are cornerback Josh Robinson, linebacker Erin Henderson, offensive guard Jeff Baca, tight end Kyle Rudolph, wide receiver Rodney Smith and defensive tackle Chase Baker.

Audie Cole will start at middle linebacker for Henderson. Xavier Rhodes will start in place of Robinson at left cornerback.

Peterson questionable; Henderson ruled out

Posted by: Chip Scoggins Updated: November 22, 2013 - 1:58 PM

Adrian Peterson is listed as questionable for Sunday's game at Green Bay because of a groin injury.

Peterson did some work in Friday's practice after missing two days of practice.

Middle linebacker Erin Henderson was declared out while he tends to a personal matter. Coach Leslie Frazier said Henderson probably won't make the trip and he declined to give any more specifics about Henderson's absence.

"Not at this point," Frazier said. "But at some point I probably will be able to. But not at this point.”

Henderson is the team's leading tackler. Audie Cole will start in his place.

Defensive end Brian Robison is listed as questionable because of a muscle spasm in his neck that he suffered in Thursday's practice. Robison was unable to practice Friday.

Wide receiver Greg Jennings (Achilles) also is listed as questionable but he told reporters Thursday that he definitely expects to play. Jennings was listed as probable against Seattle last week but he was made inactive on game day after experiencing a setback.

Center John Sullivan is listed as questionable, but he has cleared the NFL concussion protocol and is expected to play.

Peterson expects to play Sunday

Posted by: Chip Scoggins Updated: November 21, 2013 - 1:13 PM

Sunday marks Adrian Peterson's 100th career game and the MVP running back said he expects to play versus the Packers despite dealing with a nagging groin injury.

Peterson acknowledged that he lacks his usual explosiveness but he said he's not frustrated by it. He was asked how he would react if Coach Leslie Frazier or head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman encouraged him to miss a game in order to rest his body.

"I'd look at them crazy," he said. "I'd be like, 'Well, I know my body and I'm not going to do anything to hurt myself. Just trust me.'"

Peterson said he refuses to sit because he hasn't given up on this season even though his team is 2-8.

"To be honest with you, in my eyes, I don't know how you all think, but I still think we've got a chance," he said. "Call me crazy. But I still feel like we have an opportunity. That's the way I'm going to approach this week and the rest of the season."

Peterson was asked what he's seen to make him feel that way.

"The guys that are in this locker room," he said. "I feel like I believe in every guy in here, and I believe in Christian [Ponder]. I believe that he can turn it on and get into a run. I have faith in the guys in this locker room. When I look in these guys’ eyes, when I’m on the field with them, they’re playing their hearts out. They’re out there competing. I don’t see guys quitting. I probably wouldn’t have that sense if I looked around the locker room or when we played and seen guys not out there competing or guys giving up. That’s not what I see. So, with that, you still have a chance. I choose to focus on that opportunity and that chance that we have and believing in this guys in this locker room and really don’t care what everyone else on the outside thinks about it."

Smith ready to return

Safety Harrison Smith said he expects to return to practice next week and he hopes to play in the final three games.

Smith was placed on injured reserve/designed to return after suffering a turf toe injury. Smith chose to rest and rehab his left foot instead of having surgery. Smith said he is scheduled to have another MRI soon to confirm that his foot is making adequate progress.

Smith can't officially practice until next week so he's been doing a lot of individual conditioning.

"It’s amazing how out of shape you can get in a few weeks," he said. "So I’m just getting my cardio back up and making sure that I can make all the movements I need.’’

Smith is not eligible to play in a game until the Philadelphia game Dec. 15. With the Vikings at 2-8, he was asked if he's considered taking the rest of the season to recover.

"No," he said, and then named the Vikings' final three opponents for emphasis.

Smith will have two weeks of practice to get his stamina back.

"Even when we come in for training camp, you can be in the best shape you think you can be in and it’s still not football shape," he said.

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