Bungle in the Jungle: Vikings aren't competitive in loss to Bengals

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 23, 2013 - 7:44 AM

The Vikings finally played as poorly as their record indicates in a dismal performance in Cincinnati.

– This felt like the bitter end, an ugly climax to a season that can’t end soon enough.

On the most basic level, the Vikings on Sunday played like a team that already has its offseason tee times booked. They were sloppy on offense, overmatched on defense and punch-drunk by halftime.

As a result, any glimmer of hope that a strong finish might dissuade the organization from making wholesale changes at season’s end likely got flushed down the drain with a sobering 42-14 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium.

“Obviously, today was a bad day at the office,” said quarterback Matt Cassel, who tossed aside all the positive vibes surrounding his recent play by committing four turnovers.

Until Sunday, the Vikings could point to their effort as a sign that the team hadn’t quit on the season or coach Leslie Frazier. Even in losses, the Vikings played extremely hard and made games competitive.

That wasn’t the case Sunday. This game was so lopsided that it deserved a running clock in the second half. The Vikings weren’t remotely competitive on either side of the ball.

“Difficult, difficult loss in a lot of ways,” Frazier said.

The loss meant the Vikings (4-10-1) finished without a road victory for the third time in franchise history and first since 2001. The nature of the loss might have sealed Frazier’s fate as owners Zygi and Mark Wilf contemplate whether to make a coaching change.

Several national reports have surfaced indicating the Vikings already have begun vetting possible replacements. The team’s lackluster performance didn’t do anything to give pause, but the face of the franchise voiced his support for Frazier in the postgame locker room.

“I’m definitely not an individual that’s looking for dramatic change like that,” Adrian Peterson said. “It will hurt if he leaves.”

Peterson said he intends to share his feelings on Frazier with ownership after the season. Frazier was asked about his job status again, and he attempted to deflect that line of questioning.

“We’ll have some internal discussions, but I’ve got one more game this season and I’m looking forward to hopefully coaching that final game and getting us a win at Mall of America Field as we close out the Dome,” he said. “That’s where my focus will be.”

That will require a much better performance than his team provided against a Bengals squad (10-5) that clinched a playoff berth for a third consecutive season and remained undefeated at home.

Cassel fumbled on the opening series on a sack, and things went downhill from there, save for one brief highlight on Jarius Wright’s 36-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter.

Cassel followed his 382-yard passing performance against Philadelphia last week with a clunker. In addition to his fumble that gift-wrapped Cincinnati’s first touchdown, Cassel threw three interceptions (including a pick-six), was sacked four times, passed for only 114 yards and finished with a 32.6 passer rating.

Frazier said Cassel likely will remain the starter for the season finale against Detroit, but his turnovers were killers. The Vikings finished the first half with the same number of turnovers — three — by Cassel as they had first downs.

“The turnovers are always an issue in our league,” Frazier said. “If you’re turning the ball over, that’s hard to overcome. It’s just hard to win if you’re doing that.”

Especially since the Vikings defense provided a double whammy. The Vikings gave up 429 total yards and 24 first downs and were abysmal on third down (8-for-14). It was the third time this season the Vikings allowed 40-plus points.

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Atlanta - WP: E. Stults 4 FINAL
Detroit - LP: J. Chamberlain 2
Washington - LP: X. Cedeno 2 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Wacha 6
Philadelphia 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 18
Baltimore 6 FINAL
Tampa Bay 6
Miami - LP: D. Haren 1 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: R. Montero 7
San Diego 6 FINAL
Cincinnati 3
San Francisco 5 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 8
Colorado 2 FINAL
Oakland 11
LA Angels - LP: N. Tropeano 3 FINAL
Seattle - WP: T. Walker 5
Cleveland 4 FINAL
Chicago WSox 1
Kansas City 11 FINAL
Texas 7
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
Arizona 2
Toronto 7 FINAL
Houston 4
Minnesota - LP: C. Johnson 2 FINAL
Boston - WP: J. Masterson 14
Boston 116 FINAL
Charlotte 104
LA Lakers 113 FINAL
Philadelphia 111
Houston 96 FINAL
Toronto 99
Milwaukee 88 FINAL
Atlanta 101
Sacramento 83 FINAL
Memphis 97
Utah 104 FINAL
Minnesota 84
Phoenix 86 FINAL
Portland 109
Tampa Bay 5 FINAL
Montreal 3
Vancouver 4 FINAL
St. Louis 1
Calgary 5 FINAL
Dallas 3
Los Angeles 1 FINAL
Chicago 4
Edmonton 4 FINAL
Colorado 1
Buffalo 4 FINAL
Arizona 1
ULM 58 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 65
Dayton 70 FINAL
(1) Connecticut 91
(6) Tennessee 48 FINAL
(4) Maryland 58
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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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