Vikings notes: Cassel hopes to keep starting job
- Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS
- December 9, 2013 - 6:36 AM
BALTIMORE – Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel said he hopes he performed well enough Sunday to keep the starting job, but he quickly added “as you well know, it’s not my decision.”
Cassel threw two touchdown passes and avoided turning the ball over in difficult conditions in a 29-26 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.
Cassel started his third game of the season in place of Christian Ponder, who is sidelined because of a concussion. Cassel completed 17 of 38 passes for 265 yards and finished with an 86.0 passer rating.
Cassel is the only Vikings quarterback to pass for 240 yards in a game this season. Sunday marked the fourth time he’s done that.
“I would like to start,” he said. “I just continue to get ready to go each week and if they tell me I get another opportunity to start this week, I’ll be excited and go out there and compete.”
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier was not asked about his quarterback plans for this Sunday’s game against Philadelphia. Frazier typically waits until later in the week to disclose his starter.
“I thought [Cassel] did some good things,” Frazier said. “He battled, kept giving us a chance throughout the ballgame under some tough conditions against a good defensive team. I thought he did a lot of good things.”
Cassel, a nine-year veteran, said he can’t remember playing in worse conditions than what the teams experienced on Sunday. Heavy snow fell for 2½ quarters, followed by freezing rain. Players struggled with their footing throughout the game as the grounds crew continuously removed snow during breaks in play.
“This is as bad as it gets in terms of footing and constant snow throughout the day,” Cassel said.
“The snow finally started to slow down a little bit [in the fourth quarter] and you could start to feel your fingers a little bit more,” Cassel added. “The guys did a tremendous job throughout the day of keeping their feet, running good routes and keeping their concentration. It was a difficult day.”
Adrian Peterson’s sprained right foot naturally received the most attention, but the Vikings have a few other players who suffered injuries.
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes left the game in the fourth quarter because of an ankle injury. Rhodes said he “rolled” his right ankle.
Right guard Brandon Fusco suffered a knee injury in the first quarter and did not return. He was replaced by Joe Berger.
Tight end John Carlson was evaluated for a concussion after taking a big hit on a 7-yard catch in third quarter.
Simpson finally scores
Jerome Simpson caught his first touchdown pass in a Vikings uniform in the fourth quarter.
Simpson’s 8-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone gave the Vikings a 12-7 lead. Cassel made a perfect pass and Simpson got both feet down.
“That’s a play that we practice every week,” Simpson said. “Matt just put the ball where it needed to be and I caught it. I tried to sneak behind the defense.”
Simpson did not catch a touchdown pass in 12 games last season or the first 12 games this season.
Another late-game TD
The Vikings defensive players were angry over two pass interference penalties in the fourth quarter and disappointed with their inability to stop two touchdown drives after controlling the Ravens offense for three quarters.
The Vikings intercepted Joe Flacco three times and, through three quarters, held the Ravens to 56 yards rushing and only 163 total yards.
“We just physically dominated those guys the entire game and it came down to the last four minutes,” linebacker Chad Greenway said.
Late-game situations have plagued the defense all season and the Vikings failed to finish again.
“We didn’t execute down the stretch,” defensive tackle Kevin Williams said. “They got a little help [from the officials] with a couple of plays, but I think with the touchdowns, they were just executing.”
• Rhodes recorded his 20th pass breakup of the season on the first play of the game, setting a new team record by a rookie. He entered the game tied with Orlando Thomas (1995). Rhodes was credited with three pass breakups for the game.
• Cornerback Marcus Sherels and safety Andrew Sendejo notched their first career interceptions.
• Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta made his season debut after suffering a hip injury in training camp. Activated from injured reserve on Saturday, Pitta finished with six catches for 48 yards and one touchdown. Four of his catches resulted in first down.
• The team’s combined for 13 points through three quarters and 42 points in the fourth quarter, including 36 in the final 2:05.
• The Vikings were delayed leaving Baltimore because their plane was struck by a catering truck. A new plane was flown in from Detroit.
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