Hartman blog: Injured Vikings pull together for victory
- Blog Post by: Sid Hartman
- December 15, 2013 - 5:13 PM
Philadelphia was one of the hottest teams in the NFL coming into the Vikings game on Sunday, having won five in a row and owning the hottest quarterback in the league in Nick Foles.
Foles had only one interception and 20 touchdown passes coming into the game.
The Vikings were six-point underdogs and had not gone into a game, in my memory, with as many key players on the sidelines. Included in that list was Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart, Kyle Rudolph, John Carlson, Brandon Fusco, Xavier Rhodes, Chris Cook and others were out because of injuries.
The Vikings starting tailback was Matt Asiata, who didn’t even dress for four games this year and saw little or no action because Peterson was No. 1 and Gerhart was No. 2 among the running backs.
But thanks to a very good quarterback performance by Matt Cassel, who completed 26 of 35 passes for 382 yards, two touchdowns and a 116.6 quarterback rating, the highest of any Vikings QB this year. Cassel also ran for a touchdown.
The result was the Vikings scored a big upset, beating the Eagles 48-30, even though it looked as if they were going to blow another game in the second half when the Eagles got within a touchdown. The Vikings have lost four games this season in the closing minutes.
Cassel and former Packer Greg Jennings have become quite a tandem. On Sunday, Jennings caught 11 passes for 163 yards and a 57-yard touchdown. In the last two games, Cassel to Jennings has been worth 16 receptions for 216 yards.
Five players who had seen little or no action played a big part in upsetting the NFC East leading Eagles. Asiata carried the ball 30 times for 51 yards and three touchdowns. Joe Berger stepped in at right guard for Brandon Fusco and helped solidify the line. Rhett Ellison and Chase Ford filled in at tight end very capably. Backup cornerback Marcus Sherels played the entire game on defense, in addition to returning punts and playing on special teams. The other cornerback, Sean Prater, was picked up midseason from the Eagles, and he had an interception against his former team.
So the Vikings win the games they are not supposed to win, and lose the ones they probably should win.
© 2014 Star Tribune