Patterson lone Vikings bright spot, running for TD and nearing kick return record

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 23, 2013 - 6:25 AM
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Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson ran past Bengals free safety Reggie Nelson into the end zone for a third-quarter touchdown Sunday.

Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

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– On a day in which very little went right for the Vikings, rookie Cordarrelle Patterson continued to be a bright spot.

Patterson scored a rushing touchdown and moved closer to the franchise record for return yards in a 42-14 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium.

Patterson recorded his second rushing touchdown of the season on a 35-yard run in the third quarter.

He also returned four kickoffs for 143 yards and needs 4 return yards to break Buster Rhymes’ team record of 1,345 set in 1985.

Patterson had returns of 48, 44 and 34 yards.

“We didn’t take advantage of that,” coach Leslie Frazier said. “We started with ideal field position to start the game, and we had a few others where we he set us up with good field position as well. When you don’t take advantage of those situations on the road, it’s going to come back and get you.”

The Bengals took a different approach with Patterson than Philadelphia did a week earlier. The Eagles used short kickoffs to eliminate Patterson as a returner. The Bengals opted to kick to him, which didn’t surprise Patterson.

“[Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer] told me that their coach is kind of arrogant; he’s just like him,” Patterson said. “He’s going to kick it deep no matter who the returner is.”

Patterson presumably was talking about Bengals special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons. Patterson wants to make teams regret choosing to kick the ball to him.

“If they kick me the ball, I’ve just got make them pay for it,” he said. “Every time I catch the ball, I feel like owe someone something.”

Patterson was asked if he would ever consider taking a knee in the end zone.

“It depends on what the situation is,” he said. “If Coach gets in my head and says take a knee, I’m going to take a knee. I can’t be a knucklehead and return it. Something bad might happen.”

Third-down woes

The Bengals nearly doubled the Vikings in time of possession (39 minutes, 32 seconds to 20:28). The main reason was third-down efficiency. The Bengals converted eight of 14 third-down opportunities. The Vikings offense was 0-for-9.

The Vikings defense gave up conversions on third-and-10, third-and-7, third-and-11, third-and-10 and third-and-15.

“Third down was terrible to say the least,” defensive end Jared Allen said.

Hard to sack

The Vikings sacked Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton twice late in the game, but their rush had little impact on him for most of the game.

The Vikings expected to have a hard time getting to Dalton, who has the fastest snap-to-release time of any NFL quarterback, according to ProFootballFocus.

“We knew the ball was going to come out fast,” Allen said. “This is the fastest I think I’ve ever seen. … We knew going in that it was going to be tough [to get pressure], that we were going to have to get our hands up and bat some balls down and put bodies in his face because that ball was going to come out quick.”

Everson Griffen had 1½ sacks, sharing one with Allen.

Scary fall for Simpson

Vikings receiver Jerome Simpson had a frightening landing while trying to catch a pass along his team’s sideline in the second quarter.

Simpson leapt high for the ball and was flipped by safety Reggie Nelson. Simpson spun and looked as if he might land on his head but fell on his shoulders.

The team’s medical staff checked him out, but he was able to return.

“It was pretty scary,” he said. “I just credit my flexibility and athleticism to be able to save me on that. I just know how to fall sometimes and I fell on my shoulders to try and protect myself. A lot of guys said they were praying for me as soon as I went down.”

Injury update

Running back Toby Gerhart reinjured his right hamstring while chasing down Bengals defensive end Carlson Dunlap on a fumble return on the game’s opening series. Gerhart tackled Dunlap at the 4-yard line, but he came up hobbling.

Gerhart missed the Philadelphia game last week and was listed as questionable for Sunday’s game because of that injury.

“Hamstrings are weird,” he said. “It felt good all week. I practiced all week and everything felt good. Then I tried to open up and chase him and it grabbed again.”

Middle linebacker Audie Cole suffered a sprained right ankle in the first quarter. He had an MRI in the locker room and was in a walking boot after the game.

Cornerback Chris Cook did not start after missing the Philadelphia game because of a knee injury. But his replacement, Shaun Prater, injured his ankle covering a punt and missed some time.

Dalton went at Cook when he was in the game.

“I don’t want to talk about injuries,” Cook said. “I had some struggles today and I had to fight through it and finish the game. Prater went down so I had to come back in and take over.”

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