Sid Hartman: Cassel once again shows wisdom of his signing

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 2, 2013 - 9:38 AM

The backup quarterback came on in relief of injured starter Christian Ponder and sparked the overtime victory.

The decision to sign Matt Cassel as a backup quarterback paid off Sunday in a 23-20 victory over the Bears, as the former Patriots and Chiefs quarterback passed for 243 yards after replacing Christian Ponder, who suffered a concussion in the first half.

The Vikings trailed by 10 points midway in the fourth quarter, but thanks to Cassel and the running of Adrian Peterson, who gained 211 yards, the Purple was victorious.

Cassel, who started at times for the Chiefs and the Patriots, was asked how he handles coming in cold.

“I think it’s for me now that I have been doing it for a while, it is about always being accountable to your teammates throughout the course of the week,” he said. “I am a firm believer in practice preparation becomes game reality, and by that I mean that you have to put in the work during the week and when your number is called you should be prepared.”

Despite completing 20 of 33 passes for one touchdown and an interception on a pass that should have been caught for a touchdown, Cassel refused to brag about his performance.

“There are a ton of things I am going to watch on film and say ‘Oh my goodness, I can’t believe I did that or this,’ ” he said. “There is always room for improvement. But I am just excited that I was able to help this team to victory today. The offensive line was outstanding. Adrian Peterson obviously had another 200-yard game for him, the receivers did a great job, so offensively it made it easy for me.”

Cassel was asked if a game like this should make him the starting quarterback.

“I don’t make those decisions,” he said. “To be honest my job is to go out and get prepared each week and whatever the coach asks me to do, put my best foot forward. But at the same time my job is to go out there and be prepared and be accountable to those guys in the locker room.’’

Big move by Peterson

Peterson’s performance made him the third-fastest running back in history to surpass the 10,000-yard milestone.

“It really means a lot,” Peterson said. ‘‘A lot of guys have contributed to it over the years — Matt Birk, Steve Hutchinson, Bryant McKinnie and the guys from this year.”

Peterson also added current center John Sullivan and his fullbacks throughout the year who have contributed with their blocking.

“Just to be in that group, it’s truly a blessing,” Peterson said. “God has blessed me to be surrounded by some great guys to help me get to that goal. I sit here and I am just humbled.’’

Peterson was asked how the Vikings rallied from 10 points down in the fourth quarter.

“I was talking on the sidelines with Sully [Sullivan] and some of the guys and said, ‘Hey we are going to get the opportunities,’ ” Peterson said. “The defense is going to make some plays, and they did. ... We were able to march the ball, creating some drives and ultimately put some points on the board.

“It really came to us not giving up. Guys continuing to have faith, and that is what Coach [Leslie] Frazier harps on.

“You have got to believe. You can’t tuck your tail and run, you can’t give up. No matter how it looks you have to continue to fight. That’s one thing that we have done all year. Our record doesn’t show it, but you guys have heard me say it time and time again: I haven’t seen guys quit. When I look in their eyes there is fight there. Today was a perfect example of that fight that we have inside of us.”

One thing unusual about Peterson is that he doesn’t have the home runs he has had in other seasons.

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