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.


Extra points: Cole's heroics, Ponder’s dive, Simpson’s leap and the longest wave in history

Posted by: under Vikings, Leslie Frazier, Jared Allen, Leslie Frazier Updated: August 18, 2012 - 12:18 AM

Five fun topics to discuss following the Vikings’ 36-14 preseason blowout of Buffalo …

The start of Cole-mania?

We’re obligated to start with rookie linebacker Audie Cole, aren’t we? Hey, the kid ended Friday’s game with not one, but two interception returns for touchdowns. Within 13 seconds of each other. The first one was a 20-yard return of a Brad Smith pass. The second, on Buffalo’s next snap, was a 30-yard return after Cole jumped an out route. For a seventh-round pick fighting his butt off to make the team, those big plays certainly won’t hurt his cause.

Said head coach Leslie Frazier: “To see Audie do what he did, that’s a big deal. You could see the jubilation from his teammates. Everyone on the team was in the end zone with him on that second one. It was pretty impressive. We’re excited for him. He seems to be one of those guys who may be someone who has a knack for the big play.

What is he doing?

Did that 3-yard first-quarter run by Christian Ponder make your heart skip a beat? You know, the one on third-and-2 from the Buffalo 4 during which Ponder fled the pocket, had little space, yet picked up the first down with an athletic sprint and a seemingly dangerous headfirst slide? Well, that little Rickey Henderson move is something Ponder has actually been coached to do by offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave.

“Coach Musgrave made this cut-up about sliding headfirst versus sliding feet first,” Ponder said, “and we’ve never seen someone get hurt sliding feet first. So it’s on purpose. When you slide feet first, you’re exposing your body to get hit. And like we saw at Washington with me last year, I got pretty jacked up that game [sliding feet first]. People were Tweeting at me [tonight] like, ‘Dude, slide feet first. What are you doing?’ But it’s a planned deal”

Jerome being Jerome

No recap of Friday’s game would be complete without at least some discussion of Jerome Simpson’s acrobatics. Man, this guy should be fun to watch. His biggest highlight Friday night was a 33-yard catch that included a jaw-dropping leap over Bills safety Jairus Byrd.

“It just comes naturally to me,” Simpson said. “You know, if it’s time for me to juke, I juke. If it’s time for me to jump, that’s when I jump.”

Ponder also had a good view of the play. “I was like, ‘Dude, why didn’t you score a touchdown and give me a long touchdown pass?’”

As for the worry about what Simpson’s absence during the first three weeks of the regular season will mean as he serves a three-game NFL suspension? Well, it’s worth nothing that Ponder had 10 completions Friday to eight different receivers.

The wave goes to a new level, Jared Allen approves

When Friday’s game grew dull in the second half – let’s face it, all preseason games do – fans at Mall of America Field initiated the wave. And then they added to the wave by throwing program pages and other debris into the air. And then they kept doing it for probably around 15 or 20 minutes. On the sidelines, Vikings defensive end Jared Allen was entertained by the spectacle.

“That was awesome,” Allen said. “It all started because they wanted a [pass interference call]. It never ceases to amaze me. Though, at the end, I thought there were probably some fans who weren’t really cool with it, some grumpy people in the crowd getting confetti on their head. I thought it was hilarious. Well done. Somebody, I don’t know who threw it. But they should measure. I saw a paper airplane come from the top deck and land on the 50-yard line. That’s impressive. That’s got to be some kind of record. It’s gotta be.

Something to build on

Want a few last statistical nuggets on the productivity of the first team offense through two preseason games? Ponder and the first unit have been on the field for five possessions now. Those drives have averaged nine offensive plays and 59 yards. The Vikings have penetrated the opposition’s 35 yard line every time and haven’t punted. Overall, Ponder is 14-for-22 for 216 yards and a touchdown. He has yet to turn the ball over and has been sacked twice. Those five series have ended with a touchdown, three field goals and a missed field goal.

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Cleveland 86 FINAL
Indiana 93
Washington 81 FINAL
Philadelphia 89
Golden State 113 FINAL
Toronto 89
New York 121 FINAL
Detroit 115
Orlando 88 FINAL
Atlanta 95
Charlotte 98 FINAL
Boston 106
LA Clippers 97 FINAL
Memphis 79
Brooklyn 98 FINAL
Houston 102
Miami 102 FINAL
New Orleans 104
Minnesota 89 FINAL
Chicago 96
Utah 104 FINAL
Denver 82
San Antonio 107 FINAL
Sacramento 96
Milwaukee 93 FINAL
LA Lakers 101
Oklahoma City 110 4th Qtr 0:03
Portland 113
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 2
Calgary 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Washington 0 FINAL
Carolina 3
Chicago 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Colorado 5 FINAL(SO)
Dallas 4
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Siena 63 FINAL
Quinnipiac 73
Harvard 49 FINAL
Cornell 57
Penn 69 FINAL
Brown 75
Fairfield 65 FINAL
Canisius 72
Manhattan 75 FINAL
Iona 79
Saint Peters 67 FINAL
Marist 69
Princeton 60 FINAL
Yale 81
Ohio 58 FINAL
Akron 70
Dartmouth 84 FINAL
Columbia 71
Valparaiso 56 FINAL
Cleveland State 53
Louisiana Tech 75 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 88
Seton Hall 77 FINAL
Xavier 60
Cornell 54 FINAL
Harvard 60
Yale 49 FINAL
(14) Princeton 67
Elon 51 FINAL
Drexel 54
Northeastern 47 FINAL
James Madison 82
St Johns 60 FINAL
Butler 49
Creighton 71 FINAL
Georgetown 62
Brown 58 FINAL
Penn 75
Columbia 50 FINAL
Dartmouth 60
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St Josephs Brooklyn 35 FINAL
NJIT 78
Western Carolina 86 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 80
Colorado 66 FINAL
Arizona 51
Southern Ill 72 FINAL
Bradley 66
Drake 59 FINAL
Wichita State 80
Indiana State 71 FINAL
Evansville 53
Illinois State 53 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 67
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Utah 42 FINAL
(10) Arizona State 46
Providence 62 FINAL
Villanova 71
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

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