It’s not often that an NFL head coach only wants to talk about a blowout loss, but there Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer was Sunday, practically begging reporters to nitpick his football team instead of asking questions about the legal troubles of running back Adrian Peterson.
Peterson was not at Sunday’s 30-7 loss to the New England Patriots at TCF Bank Stadium after he was indicted and charged on one count of injury to a child in Montgomery County, Texas.
The Vikings deactivated him on Friday, hours after the arrest warrant was issued.
Peterson took a late-night flight to Houston and was booked on Saturday, then released on $15,000 bond.
“I don’t want to discuss the Adrian issue at all today,” Zimmer said to open his postgame news conference. “This is about the football game here. We’ll talk about it Monday or whenever we have the press conference.”
That didn’t stop the media contingent, which included several national reporters, from asking nine questions about Peterson’s status and the impact it had on his Vikings team.
At one point, Zimmer said: “Let’s talk about the game. Do you want to talk about the game?”
Zimmer was noncommittal about Peterson’s status for Week 3, saying that the Vikings were “just trying to get through the weekend right now and we’ll figure out where everything is.”
Zimmer also wouldn’t explain the thought process that went into deactivating Peterson for the game and declined to say whether he expects Peterson to join his teammates at the practice facility Monday.
Cassel still the starter
Starting quarterback Matt Cassel struggled against his former team, throwing a career-high four interceptions in the loss. But Zimmer said he never considered going to rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and announced that Cassel will get the start against the New Orleans Saints in Week 3.
“I’m going to hold the quarterback position just like every position here, to the same standard,” he said. “I also said I’m not going to have a quick hook. Matt needs to play better. It’s pretty obvious he needs to play better.”
Cassel appreciated the vote of confidence from his coach and agreed with Zimmer’s assessment of his play.
“I’ve got to do a better job, and I will,” Cassel said. “It didn’t go the way I wanted it to today.”
Cassel, who completed 19 of his 36 attempts for 202 yards and a touchdown, had a 39.1 passer rating. All four of his interceptions came when the Patriots rushed four, and the Vikings offensive line allowed pressure on only one of those plays.
Rhodes, Floyd start
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, who were listed as questionable on the final injury report, both suited up and started against the Patriots.
Rhodes, who is dealing with a groin injury, was picked on by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and was also flagged three times for defensive pass interference or holding. Floyd, meanwhile, made just one tackle after missing two practices last week because of a shoulder injury.
Outside linebacker Chad Greenway, safety Harrison Smith and right guard Brandon Fusco all were banged up at different points in Sunday’s game but did not miss significant time, if any at all.
Unlucky No. 9?
The Vikings appeared to be unorganized at a few points during the game, but none was more glaring than when they had just nine players on the field for a Patriots punt early in the third quarter. The Patriots still punted, and they downed the ball to pin the Vikings at their 4.
“It wasn’t too good,” Zimmer said.
Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, serving a three-game suspension, will have the suspension reduced to two games because he attended sensitivity training, the team said Sunday night. That means he would return Monday.
No. 500 for Jennings
With Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis trailing him for most of the afternoon, wide receiver Greg Jennings was limited to one catch for 4 yards. But the modest gain was the 500th reception of his nine-year NFL career.
“They had a scheme that they wanted to run when they went in. They matched Revis with Greg all day,” Cassel said. “[Revis] did a pretty good job.”
• The Patriots have 12 consecutive victories against NFC North teams, the longest streak in the NFL by one team against another division. Kansas City has 10 consecutive victories against the NFC West.
• Since realignment, the Patriots are 39-9 against NFC teams, the best record among all NFL teams. Pittsburgh is 33-14-1.
• New England is 38-1 when it has a 100-yard rusher since 2000. Stevan Ridley gained 101 yards for the Patriots on Sunday. New England has only one loss in the Bill Belichick era with a 100-yard runner.