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Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel endured Eagles pressure and completed a pass to wide receiver Jarius Wright for an 11-yard gain in the third quarter Sunday. Would Christian Ponder have completed that pass?

JEFF WHEELER • jwheeler@startribune.com,

Rand: How much did QB problem cost Vikings?

  • December 16, 2013 - 6:37 AM

Revisionist history is a dangerous version of the past, but it’s impossible at this point to think about the Vikings’ season, with all of the close losses, and not wonder how things might have been different if Matt Cassel had been the starting quarterback for all 14 games.

The Vikings have lost four games in the final minute and wound up tied in another after blowing a 16-point fourth-quarter lead. I understand the defense has been a major culprit. Last year’s Vikings were 6-0 when allowing 14 points or fewer. This year’s team has never allowed fewer than 20 in a game.

That said, when you have so many close games, when one play by a quarterback could keep the game out of the defense’s hands, it’s still tempting to wonder. If Cassel was the QB all season, this is probably a .500 team, maybe better, and these final games of the season are more than just reminders of what might have been. By the way, Cassel’s 382 yards passing Sunday were the most for a Vikings QB since Brett Favre went for 446 in 2010 against Arizona.

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Fascinating finish in Washington. First off, the Redskins succeeded if they are hoping to build Kirk Cousins’ value for an offseason trade. He had 381 yards passing and helped rally his team. His late TD pass pulled Washington within 27-26 against Atlanta, and that’s when the real fun began. Washington went for a two-point conversion and missed it, which made people happy in … St. Louis? Absolutely. The Rams get Washington’s first-round pick in 2014, part of the trade that let Washington draft QB Robert Griffin III — the QB they shut down in favor of Cousins. Washington is now 3-11 with the loss, and that pick would be No. 2 overall if the season ended today (same as the pick that landed RGIII).

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The Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl. Who is going to beat them in Seattle? They beat the Saints and 49ers in home games this season by a combined score of 63-10, and no other team has a chance.

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If any of you geniuses had the foresight and ability to pick up Matt Asiata for your fantasy football playoffs, well, congratulations. You were the beneficiary of one of the oddest stat lines in NFL history: 30 carries, 51 yards … and three TD runs. If he wins you a championship, you know you are living right.

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In case you missed it, the Vikings turned over their official Twitter feed (@Vikings) to Metrodome greats Daunte Culpepper and Chris Doleman for parts of Sunday’s game. Best tweet from Daunte: “Next Cassel TD he needs to get his roll on.” Ah yes, the days of Daunte’s touchdown roll. That was fun.

MICHAEL RAND

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