Foxborough, Mass. – The Vikings secondary was already dealing with cornerback Xavier Rhodes’ right hamstring injury when cornerback Trae Waynes went down with a concussion in the second quarter of Sunday’s 24-10 loss in New England.
Waynes was ruled out after a collision during a 3-yard run by Patriots running back Rex Burkhead. He did not return to the game, further testing the Vikings’ corner depth. Rhodes, who took part in one limited practice last week, rotated series with rookie cornerback Holton Hill while playing on the injured hamstring. That was the Vikings’ plan entering the game, per head coach Mike Zimmer.
“It was a battle. No matter what, I’m going to fight for my team,” Rhodes said. “It was good, nothing major to the point where I feel like I had to get out of there, stay out a whole half or whole quarter. We were just cautious, but it was still good.”
When Rhodes and Waynes were out, the Vikings turned to Hill and veteran Marcus Sherels at cornerback. Zimmer declined to evaluate Rhodes’ play against the Patriots, but it was clear Rhodes was playing through the injury. He got up limping after missing a tackle on Patriots receiver Josh Gordon at the goal line.
Thielen and Belichick
Receiver Adam Thielen and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick exchanged words after the Vikings’ 4th-and-1 conversion in the fourth quarter. Thielen said he was upset that Patriots safety Patrick Chung went down with an injury at the same moment the Patriots might’ve wanted additional time to review the spot on the Vikings’ successful run. On the FOX broadcast, Belichick was seen saying to Thielen something to the effect of “shut up.”
“I just thought it was interesting timing for a guy to go down,” Thielen said. “When it was a close play that could’ve been reviewed.”
Belichick did challenge the spot of the ball, but the ruling was upheld.
Patterson salutes Vikings
Patriots receiver Cordarrelle Patterson saluted the Vikings’ bench after a fingertip catch for 29 yards in the third quarter. Patterson, whom the Vikings drafted 29th overall in 2013, reunited with his former teammates before and after the game. But during the game, Patterson’s Patriots had the upper hand as he caught two passes for 53 yards and added a 6-yard run.
Bailey misses again
Vikings kicker Dan Bailey missed his third field goal attempt in the past two games when he pulled a 48-yard try wide left in the first quarter. Punter Matt Wile, the holder, was late running onto the field for the attempt, but the hold looked solid when Bailey connected and missed. Bailey did make a 39-yard field goal in the third quarter and converted on his lone extra-point attempt.
‘Not good enough’
The Vikings defense entered Sunday as the NFL’s best on third downs. The Patriots didn’t play like it. Quarterback Tom Brady’s offense converted 7 of 14 attempts, including 5 of the first 6 tries before safety Anthony Harris broke up a third-and-goal pass in the second quarter. The outing soured the Vikings’ season average from 28 percent allowed up to 30 percent. However, Minnesota most likely will still lead the league after Monday night’s game.
“Fifty percent is not good enough for us,” linebacker Anthony Barr said.
Zimmer on McCarthy’s firing
Zimmer was informed of the Packers firing head coach Mike McCarthy after the game. His immediate response was to call it “a mistake” by Green Bay following the Packers’ 20-17 home loss to Arizona on Sunday.
“I think it’s a sad, sad deal,” Zimmer said. “Mike McCarthy is a good football coach. I think it’s a mistake. Just one man’s opinion.”