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.


Posts about Vikings offense

Cassel named 'Air Player of the Week'

Posted by: Chris Miller Updated: December 20, 2013 - 4:08 PM

Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel was named the FedEx Air Player of the Week.

Cassel threw for 382 yards and two touchdowns in the 48-30 victory over Philadelphia. He also rushed for a touchdown.

Since taking over the starting quarterback role on December 1, 2013, vs. Chicago, Cassel has thrown for 890 yards, third-most in the NFL during that span behind Tom Brady (1,153) and Peyton Manning (1,089).

Leslie Frazier: No question on Vikings QB next week

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: December 15, 2013 - 7:02 PM

Without running backs Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart, the Vikings offense still racked up 48 points.

So you won't have to wait until Friday to figure out who will be the starting quarterback. Matt Cassel went 26 of 35 for 382 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in the 48-30 victory over the Eagles.

"No, no questions," Frazier said on next week's starter. "I don't think there are any questions."

Cassel has taken over the starting position, which belonged to Christian Ponder for most of the season until he suffered a concussion two weeks ago. Since that point, Cassel led the Vikings in the second half to beat the Bears, lose in the final seconds against the Ravens, and now blow out an Eagles team jockeying for a playoff spot.

It took 15 weeks, but perhaps the Vikings have solidified the quarterback position for the final two games.

"I don't look in the past to be completely honest with you," Cassel said. "There are decisions that are made and you never know how they are going to work out. At the same time, I'm excited that I was able to go out there and perform today and I continue to look ahead. I never look behind myself and you continue to just look forward." 

Wide receiver Greg Jennings has benefited from Cassel’s increased role in the offense. He had a career high 11 catches for 163 yards and a touchdown.

"You wonder it, but I remember mentioning something like that to Matt," said Jennings on if Cassel would’ve started the season at quarterback. "And he said, 'We've got three games left. Let's make the best of it.' And I love it because it’s his mindset. He’s not worried about what could’ve, should’ve or possibly been. He stays in the now.”

Final gun report: Vikings 48, Eagles 30

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: December 15, 2013 - 3:33 PM

The Vikings might’ve found their quarterback this season. It only took 15 weeks, but Matt Cassel led a depleted squad in a 48-30 win over the Eagles at the Metrodome. They now move to 4-9-1 this year, while the Eagles fall to 8-6 with two games left.

Here’s five takeaways from Sunday’s game:

  • Cassel had the best performance by a Vikings quarterback this season against the 29th ranked Eagles defense. He went 26 of 35 for 382 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. It’s the most passing yards for Cassel since Nov. 14, 2010 while with the Chiefs (469 yards against the Broncos.Cassel was perfect (9-for-9) in the first quarter for 168 yards. He has accounted for four of the five longest pass plays this season for the Vikings. Two occurred in the last two games, including a 57-yard touchdown to wide receiver Greg Jennings.
  • Jennings had one of the best games in his career.  And of course, it happened with Cassel at quarterback. He had a career high 11 receptions for 163 yards (four short of tying his career high) He and a touchdown. Jennings surpassed 100 yards for the first time with the Vikings, and all it took was a half. He had 114 yards at halftime.Without Josh Robinson, Xavier Rhodes and Chris Cook, the secondary limited the Eagles pass offense. Foles was not impressive in this game (surely some will blame the Sports Illustrated cover jinx) and dealt with accuracy issues. Though he threw for 417 yards, he was 29 of 47 in the game.
  • Cornerback Shaun Prater recorded an interception against his former team. He started the season with the Eagles, before he was claimed on waivers by the Vikings. After the interception return, Prater flapped his hands like an eagle in celebration. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson was caught on the sideline complaining in the middle of the game. He still finished with 10 catches for 195 yards and a touchdown.
  • Defensive end Jared Allen recorded two sacks, giving him nine this season. He needs just one more sack to record his seventh consecutive season with double-digit sacks. The Vikings did a good job of flushing Foles out of the pocket. At times it lead to huge runs (he finished with five carries for 41 yards), but the Vikings also recorded four sacks. Brian Robison also had two sacks. Allen also filled in as the long snapper on a punt in the fourth quarter. Cullen Loeffler suffered a hand injury and Allen had a snap on special teams. Punter Jeff Locke placed the punt inside the 10-yard line.
  • The Eagles hardly used running back LeSean McCoy, who led the NFL in rushing yards entering the game. He had just eight carries for 31 yards and five catches for 68 yards. Surprisingly, he had fewer touches than running back Matt Asiata, who filled in due to injuries to Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart, had carries. He finished with 30 carries for 51 yards and three touchdowns.

Final gun report: Ravens 29, Vikings 26

Posted by: Chris Miller Updated: December 8, 2013 - 3:30 PM

A slippery field that hampered both teams early turned the game into a track meet late.

Marlon Brown caught a 9-yard pass from Joe Flacco with nine seconds left to give the Ravens a 29-26 victory over the Vikings on Sunday in Baltimore.

There were 36 points scored in the final 2:05.

Corderrelle Patterson turned a short pass from Matt Cassel into a 79-yard touchdown with 45 seconds left to give the Vikings a 26-22 lead. But the Ravens drove down for the winning score, thanks a questionable pass interference call on Chad Greenway that nullified an Andrew Sendejo interception.

Jacoby Jones returned a pooch kick 77 yards for a touchdown with 1:16 remaining to give the Ravens a 22-19 lead as the teams combined for 29 points in a 1:20 span very late in the game.

The Vikings took a 19-15 advantage on Toby Gerhart’s 41-yard touchdown run with 1:27 left.

But Jones returned Blair Walsh’s short kick down the left sideline for a score as Walsh failed to push him out of bounds at the 35.

The Vikings then scored quickly as Patterson shocked the Ravens defense with his catch and run. As it turned out, 45 was too much time to leave the Ravens.

Snow hampered both teams for most of the game, and the Vikings lost star running back Adrian Peterson to a foot sprain in the first half. Backup Gerhart’s scoring run gave him 89 yards rushing.

The Ravens took a 15-12 lead by scoring on a 64-yard drive late in the fourth quarter.

Flacco threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Dennis Pitta with 2:05 remaining in the game to give the Ravens a 13-12 lead, and Flacco hit Torrey Smith for the two-point conversion and a 15-12 lead. The conversion was an eight-yarder after the Ravens were penalized. Pitta’s touchdown, which came on a fourth-down play, was set up by a 36-yard pass interference penalty on Robert Blanton.

The Vikings claimed their first lead at 12-7 on an 8-yard scoring pass from Cassel to Jerome Simpson early in the fourth quarter, but Cassel’s conversion pass to Greg Jennings was off target.

The Vikings had three interceptions in a game for the first time since the opening game of the season. Greenway, Sendejo and Marcus Sherels had the picks.

Final gun report: Vikings, Packers tie at Lambeau

Posted by: Chris Miller Updated: November 24, 2013 - 3:59 PM

GREEN BAY -- Neither team deserved to win.  And neither did.

The Vikings and Packers played to a 26-26 tie at Lambeau Field on Sunday.

The Vikings were in control of the game, leading 23-7 in the fourth quarter, before collapsing.

Mason Crosby’s 27-yard field goal with 50 seconds left in regulation capped the Green Bay comeback and sent the game into overtime.

Both teams kicked field goals on their first overtime possessions, and both went three-and-out on the second possessions. The Packers had the final chance, getting the ball at the Vikings’ 8 with two minutes left but got three penalties to kill their chances.

Green Bay is 5-5-1 and the Vikings are 2-8-1.

After the Packers kicked a field on the opening possession of overtime, the Vikings started at the 20, needing to at least kick a field goal to keep the game going.  They got a first down on an Adrian Peterson run, and another when Packers defensive back Morgan Burnett was flagged for defensive holding. John Carlson caught a pass for a first down, and Toby Gerhart ran up the middle for consecutive first-down runs, moving the ball to the Packers’ 13. On third down, Christian Ponder’s pass to Cordarrelle Patterson in the end zone was on target, but was tipped and Patterson couldn’t haul it in.  Blair Walsh’s 35-yard field goal tied the score at 26.

The Packers won the toss in overtime and stayed alive on a defensive holding penalty on Robert Blanton after they appeared to go three-and-out.  Jordy Nelson caught a pass from Matt Flynn to set up a first down on the Packers’ 42, then James Jones did the same for a first down at the Vikings’ 41. On the following play, Jarrett Boykin beat Chris Cook on a 34-yard catch, putting the ball at the 7. Eddie Lacy carried to the 3, then to the 2, but Flynn threw incomplete to Nelson on third-and-goal. Crosby then kicked a 20-yard field goal for a 26-23 lead.

Lacy gained 110 yards on 25 carries.

Peterson had 146 rushing yards and Gerhart added 91 for the Vikings.

The Vikings, who led 23-7 with 12 minutes to play, blew that 16-point fourth quarter lead by failing both offensively and defensively.  They gained only one first down in three fourth quarter possessions, and allowed the Packers to gain 173 yards and march downfield three times for scores. Only a failed two-point conversion prevented Green Bay from winning in regulation.

Crosby tied the game at 23-23 with 50 seconds remaining in regulation with a 27-yard field goal.

Flynn led the Packers to a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns, getting Green Bay within 23-20 with 3:30 remaining on a 6-yard touchdown pass to Jarrett Boykin. The Vikings went three-and-out, and Flynn drove Green Bay down for the tying field goal.

Blair Walsh kicked field goals of 36, 27 and 49 yards for the Vikings, who also scored on a 1-yard run by Peterson and a 12-yard pass from Ponder to Rhett Ellison.

Audie Cole led the Vikings with 13 tackles, filling in at middle linebacker for Erin Henderson, who missed the game because of undisclosed personal reasons.

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