Cool, calm Cassel solidifies his case to start

  • Article by: MATT VENSEL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 17, 2014 - 1:18 PM

The veteran had a strong first half, before Teddy Bridgewater led a last-minute rally.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer wanted to get an extended look at his first-team units, especially veteran quarterback Matt Cassel with the starting offense, during Saturday night’s preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals.

He figured that the Cardinals, a team with a stout defense in 2013 that just missed out on the playoffs with a 10-6 record, would serve as a preseason litmus test for Cassel and the Vikings.

Zimmer’s starters would be outscored in the first half, but behind Teddy Bridgewater, the Vikings rallied to win 30-28. While Zimmer was again noncommittal about his Week 1 starter, Cassel maintained a comfortable lead in the competition with another poised preseason performance.

“Matt’s doing great. He has taken charge of the football team. But I still like to compete,” Zimmer said. “They’re all getting a lot of reps. … But I think Matt has a great command of the offense. He’s getting better with it all the time. He’s making the correct throws and he’s taking care of the football. Both of them did today.”

Cassel completed 12 of his 16 attempts for 153 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 30 yards on three carries. After leading the Vikings on three scoring drives, he exited the game at halftime with a 125.3 passer rating.

The Cardinals jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, but Cassel and the starters responded with a pair of scoring drives, and the veteran got them down the field not only with his arm, but his legs, as well.

After hitting Jerome Simpson on a chain-moving strike to keep the drive alive on third and long, a sea of white and red jerseys opened up for Cassel, and he scrambled down the middle of the field for a 23-yard gain.

The drive stalled inside the 10-yard line when Kyle Rudolph couldn’t catch a well-placed pass in the end zone, forcing the Vikings to settle for a field goal. But the tight end would make up for it on the team’s next drive.

Early in the second quarter, Cassel connected with Rudolph, who was open running a crossing pattern through the middle of the Arizona secondary. A key downfield block by rookie running back Jerick McKinnon, who had lined up on the left sideline as a wideout, cleared Rudolph’s final obstacle to the end zone. The 51-yard catch-and-run gave the Vikings a 10-7 lead.

Rudolph finished with four catches for 89 yards. Both where highs among the team’s starting skill position players.

While the first-team offense again looked sharp, the starters on defense did not dominate like they did in limited work a week ago during a 10-6 victory over the Oakland Raiders.

On Arizona’s opening drive, Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer completed only three of his six attempts, but each of them resulted in a first down, including a 51-yard gain by rookie wide receiver Jaron Brown on a screen play.

Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer later capped off the nine-play, 93-yard touchdown drive by running the ball in from a yard out. It was the first score that Zimmer’s first-team defense allowed during the preseason.

Arizona regained the lead with 3:05 left in the first half. After Brown made an impressive leaping catch over Rhodes for a 35-yard gain, Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton found tight end Daniel Fells on fourth down for a 1-yard TD reception and a 14-10 lead.

Having seen enough, Zimmer pulled his starters on both sides of the ball at halftime, with the Vikings down 14-13.

Bridgewater entered the game at the 4:47 mark of the third quarter to mild applause from the 51,763 announced fans at TCF Bank Stadium.

He led the Vikings to a field goal on his first drive and they seized a 24-21 lead on his second when he threw his first unofficial touchdown pass in the NFL to tight end Allen Reisner.

Arizona scored late to regain the lead on a bizarre fourth-and-goal play in which the snap ricocheted off quarterback Ryan Lindley. The ensuing fumble eventually made its way to running back Zach Bauman, who ran it in for a go-ahead score.

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Cleveland 4 Suspended
Kansas City 2
Baltimore - W. Chen 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - M. Pineda
Kansas City - D. Duffy 6:05 PM
Cleveland - C. Carrasco
Seattle - J. Paxton 6:07 PM
Toronto - J. Happ
Chicago WSox - C. Bassitt 6:08 PM
Detroit - K. Lobstein
Pittsburgh - F. Liriano 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Harang
Houston - N. Tropeano 7:05 PM
Texas - D. Holland
St. Louis - A. Wainwright 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - T. Wood
Arizona - J. Collmenter 7:10 PM
Minnesota - R. Nolasco
LA Angels - C. Wilson 9:05 PM
Oakland - J. Samardzija
San Francisco - J. Peavy 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - D. Haren
Colorado - T. Matzek 9:10 PM
San Diego - E. Stults
Chicago 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Buffalo 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Green Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Tennessee 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Carolina 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Detroit 9/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Tampa Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Miami 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Oakland
Jacksonville 9/28/14 3:05 PM
San Diego
Atlanta 9/28/14 3:25 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 9/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
New Orleans 9/28/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Ottawa 2 FINAL
NY Islanders 3
Ottawa 5:00 PM
NY Islanders
New Jersey 0 2nd Prd
NY Rangers 0
Detroit 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Toronto 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Washington 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
St. Louis 7:30 PM
Dallas
Anaheim 8:00 PM
Colorado
Colorado 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Los Angeles 9:00 PM
Arizona
Arizona 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 15 FINAL
Montreal 31
Ottawa 32 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
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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 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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