Access Vikings

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 before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Vikings 2015 opponents finalized

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated December 28th at 6:28pm 286972011

The dates will be the determined in the spring, but the Vikings officially know who they will play next season.

The majority of the schedule is based on a rotation with the exception for two NFC foes that are determined by where the Vikings finish in the standings. The Vikings concluded this season with a 7-9 record, good for third in the NFC North. That means  they’ll face the Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants, who also finished third in the NFC South and East.

The Vikings will travel to Atlanta next year, while they’ll host the Giants. With the 13-9 victory over the Bears on Sunday, the Vikings and the University of Minnesota avoided a situation where they would’ve finished last in the NFC North. That would’ve meant the Washington Redskins, who finished last in the NFC East, would’ve traveled back to TCF Bank Stadium next season. The Week 9 matchup this year made the university home to the largest protest against the team’s nickname before the game.

The schedule will also feature games against the NFC West and AFC West. It’s a pretty nice travel schedule, might I selfishly add, but here are the 2015 opponents:

HOME: Rams, Seahawks, Chiefs, Chargers, Giants, Lions, Packers, Bears

AWAY: Cardinals, 49ers, Broncos, Raiders, Falcons, Lions, Packers, Bears

Vikings have a plan for Patterson, but it's up to him

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated December 28th at 6:19pm 286971591

Cordarrelle Patterson’s disappointing second season ended on another low note.

In the third quarter, Patterson was called into action on offense after fellow wide receiver Jarius Wright was knocked out of the game with a back injury. It didn’t take long for rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to target Patterson on a slant. His pass was a little behind Patterson but still catchable. But the ball caromed off Patterson’s hands directly to Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller, who nearly returned the interception for a score.

That was the last we saw of Patterson on offense. He was replaced on the next drive by Adam Thielen, who scored the first receiving touchdown of his young career.

Early in the opening comments of his post-game news conference, head coach Mike Zimmer took a subtle jab at Patterson, saying that Bridgewater’s passer rating “would have been over 100 if the ball wouldn’t have hit our guy in the chest and bounce out.” He later acknowledged that the play led to Thielen’s insertion into the offense.

Later, Zimmer was asked about the confidence level of Patterson, who was held without a catch and finished the season with just 33 catches for 384 yards and one touchdown.

“I’ve got a plan for this offseason for him, and hopefully it works,” Zimmer said after taking several seconds to choose his words. “But it’s going to be up to Cordarrelle. I’ll leave it at that.”

Adam Thielen snags first receiving TD in Vikings win

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated December 28th at 5:32pm 286969491

Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen caught his first career touchdown pass in the 13-9 victory over the Bears on Sunday, but it wasn’t even the best catch on the play.

After Thielen reached the endzone, he raced over the sidelined and toss the ball into the stands to his fiancé, Caitlin. Thielen had to throw it up a few rows in the section but later found out she did retrieve the football.

“She’s got better hands than I do,” said Thielen, after he found out she posted a picture of the football on Twitter.

Thielen finished with three catches for a team-high 68 yards, while scoring the only touchdown in the game. He was wide open on the Bears’ busted coverage. Rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw an accurate pass as Thielen went untouched for the score.

“It was awesome,” Thielen said. “It feels a lot better since we got the win on the last game of the season. We didn’t care how we won, we just wanted to get that ‘W.’”

It’s Thielen’s second career touchdown. He scored his first on a blocked punt returned for a touchdown in Week 14 against the Jets.

Audie Cole unavoidable in career game vs. Bears

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated December 28th at 5:31pm 286968421

It wasn’t difficult spotting linebacker Audie Cole in his sixth career start. All you had to do was follow the ball, and No. 57 was within the vicinity in the season finale.

Cole recorded a career high 14 tackles in the 13-9 victory over the Bears at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday. He filled in for Chad Greenway, who was inactive with a knee injury, as the Vikings dressed just four linebackers due to injuries.

“I want to make every tackle I can make,” Cole said. “I want 30 every game, but obviously that’s never going to happen. It’s fun.”

Cole had four tackles and a tackle for loss on the Bears’ opening drive and continued his aggressive play throughout the game. He also relayed the defensive calls to his teammates, donning the green dot communicator with Greenway out.

“It means a lot going forward,” Cole said. “I know today it couldn’t have done anything for the rest of the season for us, but we wanted to go out there and play the way we know we can play. I think we did that, and we’re ready to come back in next year and hopefully pick up where we left off and keep building.

The Vikings defense didn’t allow a touchdown for just the second time this season. They gave up two field goals to the Rams during the season opener.

“I don’t know in my lifetime if I’ve been on a defense that gave up zero touchdowns, but I don’t know off the top of my head,” Cole said. “That’s the goal, I mean we don’t want them to score touchdowns, kick field goals and we did that.”

Craig: Quick reaction to Vikings 13, Bears 9

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated December 28th at 4:54pm 286967961

Some thoughts following today’s 13-9 win over the Bears at TCF Bank Stadium …

For once, let’s not think about how a win hurt an NFL team’s draft status. The win today meant much more from a mental health standpoint for everyone involved on the football side of the Vikings’ operation. A loss would have ended this season with a three-game losing streak, a double-digit loss total for the fourth time in five years and an 0-6 division record capped off by a loss to a Bears team that will be blown to smithereens on Black Monday.

The win might not carry over to next year, but it helps solidify the confidence and belief in this coaching staff among the players and, in some cases, vice versa.

Offensively, Teddy Bridgewater followed up four consecutive games of completing 70.4 percent of his passes or better by completing 68 percent in another cool-headed performance. His passer rating was 90.2 and his only interception bounced off of Cordarrelle Patterson’s hands. Bridgewater finished 6-6 as a starter this year. After the game, he said his next 12 games will be better than his first 12 games. He’s the kind of guy you believe when he says that because the sense is he works very hard to better himself.

Maybe the Vikings should assign him to teach whatever makes him that way to Patterson. Patterson was the biggest disappointment of the season and, make no doubt about it, he has been put on the clock to put in the work or else.

After today’s game, Zimmer was asked about Patterson’s future. He paused a long time before saying, “I have a plan for him for the offseason. But it’s up to Cordarrelle.” Clearly, it’s time for Patterson to find whatever it takes to help him learn what he’s supposed to know to play receiver at this level.

Defensively, the Vikings held a team without a touchdown for the first time since the season opener. What that does is erase the negative vibe from the second half of last week’s loss at Miami, when the defense gave up four touchdown drives, three of them 80-yarders.

In a week where the storyline was the lack of healthy bodies at linebacker, Audie Cole took advantage of another situation when he got the start in place of weak-side linebacker Chad Greenway, who was inactive with a knee injury. Cole had a game-high 14 tackles, 11 solo, a tackle for loss and a pass defense. He also threw his name into consideration to replace the 31-year-old Greenway as a starter heading into next season. Greenway’s six-year run as the team’s leader in tackles ended. His career with the Vikings could have as well, although it will be a difficult decision to get rid of a guy who still can play when healthy and also carries himself the way the franchise wants its players to carry themselves.


Buffalo 17 FINAL
New England 9
Cleveland 10 FINAL
Baltimore 20
Dallas 44 FINAL
Washington 17
Indianapolis 27 FINAL
Tennessee 10
Jacksonville 17 FINAL
Houston 23
San Diego 7 FINAL
Kansas City 19
NY Jets 37 FINAL
Miami 24
Chicago 9 FINAL
Minnesota 13
Philadelphia 34 FINAL
NY Giants 26
New Orleans 23 FINAL
Tampa Bay 20
Carolina 27 3rd Qtr 5:59
Atlanta 3
Detroit 14 3rd Qtr 6:35
Green Bay 14
Oakland 14 3rd Qtr 7:34
Denver 27
Arizona 17 3rd Qtr 7:05
San Francisco 13
St. Louis 6 3rd Qtr 4:45
Seattle 6
Cincinnati 7:30 PM
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA 1/4/15 2:00 AM
TBA 1/4/15 2:00 AM
Detroit 90 4th Qtr 7:27
Cleveland 66
Houston 6:00 PM
San Antonio
Oklahoma City 6:30 PM
New York 8:00 PM
Toronto 8:00 PM
Phoenix 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Toronto 1 2nd Prd 9:58
Florida 1
Vancouver 7:00 PM
Tulane 57 FINAL
St Johns 82
Central Conn St 48 FINAL
Connecticut 81
Iona 81 FINAL
Drexel 62
Concordia (MI) 42 FINAL
Eastern Mich 100
Harvard 46 FINAL
Arizona State 56
Longwood 64 FINAL
Ball State 69
Sacred Heart 76 FINAL
Brown 79
Colgate 64 FINAL
Columbia 69
MD-Eastern Shore 78 FINAL
Duquesne 69
UNC Greensboro 50 FINAL
East Carolina 71
Marist 64 FINAL
Elon 69
Lafayette 76
Cincinnati Christian 58 FINAL
Liberty 78
Morgan State 53 FINAL
Marquette 81
Campbell 56 FINAL
Samford 65
Bucknell 71 FINAL
Siena 73
Long Beach State 67 FINAL
Syracuse 85
Coppin State 80 FINAL
Evansville 85
Indiana State 70
Hofstra 88 FINAL
Long Island 62
Coast Guard 48 FINAL
Army 93
Thomas (GA) 48 FINAL
High Point 85
Texas Southern 58 FINAL
Kansas State 56
Rutgers 59 FINAL
Monmouth 58
NC Wesleyan 54 FINAL
NC A&T 58
South Dakota St 63 FINAL
Northern Iowa 74
Central Penn College 69 FINAL
Radford 119
Bowling Green 79 FINAL
South Florida 70
Harris-Stowe 66 FINAL
SE Missouri St 94
Robert Morris-IL 56 FINAL
SIU Edwardsville 104
Northland College 59 FINAL
North Dakota St 83
Milwaukee 60 FINAL
South Dakota 84
Northwestern St 92 FINAL
Arkansas 100
Saint Peters 59 FINAL
Cornell 52
St Katherine 62 FINAL
Fresno State 93
Haskell 42 FINAL
Oral Roberts 94
Wake Forest 65 FINAL
Richmond 63
Fla Gulf Coast 57 FINAL
Xavier 71
SD Christian 45 FINAL
Northern Ariz 71
Judson 46 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 80
Ill-Chicago 28 2nd Half 15:49
Bradley 36
Loyola-Maryland 33 2nd Half 12:02
Fairfield 40
Miss Valley St 41 2nd Half 14:08
Houston 54
Lehigh 37 2nd Half 13:50
Delaware State 40 2nd Half 10:13
Temple 49
Belmont 19 1st Half 11:50
Butler 14
Howard 8 1st Half 12:35
Fordham 11
NW Christian 7 1st Half 11:37
Nevada 13
UC Davis 8 1st Half 9:01
Washington St 21
Abilene Christian 10 1st Half 15:36
Grand Canyon 5
UCLA 5:30 PM
Stony Brook 7:00 PM
Buffalo 7:00 PM
CS-Bakersfield 9:00 PM
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 42 FINAL
(24) USC 45
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
Toledo 1/4/15 8:00 PM
Arkansas State
Drexel 71 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 54
Holy Cross 63 FINAL
Norfolk State 62
East Carolina 62 FINAL
South Florida 69
(10) Oregon State 63 FINAL
(8) Tennessee 74
Providence 51 FINAL
Boston College 79
Florida A&M 47 FINAL
Miami-Florida 83
Oakland 69 FINAL
Central Michigan 74
Chattanooga 59 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 49
Fairfield 59 FINAL
La Salle 73
St Francis-PA 59 FINAL
Pittsburgh 97
Milwaukee 72 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 78
Gardner-Webb 59 FINAL
Longwood 63
New Hampshire 58 FINAL
Manhattan 54
Bucknell 68 FINAL
Binghamton 57
Northeastern 70 FINAL
Albany 67
George Mason 70 FINAL
Towson 72
Richmond 59 FINAL
William & Mary 56
Tulane 60 FINAL
Cincinnati 50
North Florida 51 FINAL
Florida 63
(14) Georgia 51 FINAL
Seton Hall 70
Tennessee St 75 FINAL
(12) Kentucky 87
American Univ 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 77
Massachusetts 78 FINAL
Boston U 57
Quinnipiac 69 FINAL
Saint Josephs 67
Lafayette 49 FINAL
Saint Peters 34
Northwestern 61 FINAL
(20) Michigan State 57
Duquesne 82 FINAL
Lehigh 75
George Washington 72 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 49
(17) Rutgers 66 FINAL
Indiana 51
(24) Green Bay 66 FINAL
Dayton 72
Western Mich 55 FINAL
Stony Brook 59
Davidson 67 FINAL
Virginia 57
UNC Greensboro 61 FINAL
LSU 82
Denver 63 FINAL
North Texas 55
VA Commonwealth 63 FINAL
Coppin State 52
Huston-Tillotson 36 FINAL
Houston Baptist 86
Lamar 63 FINAL
Rice 97
Miss Valley St 40 FINAL
Alabama 71
Saint Louis 63 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 49
Middle Tennessee 98 FINAL
Tenn Tech 76
Penn State 52 FINAL
(23) Iowa 77
Purdue 62 FINAL
Illinois 55
DePaul 99 FINAL
Illinois State 62
Sam Houston St 46 FINAL
Wichita State 70
South Dakota 76 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 69
(4) Notre Dame 82 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 51 FINAL
SC State 60
Alcorn State 53 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 63
Dartmouth 76 FINAL
Niagara 70
Michigan 53 FINAL
Wisconsin 63
Fla Gulf Coast 73 FINAL
CS-Northridge 64
Colgate 64 2nd Half 1:06
Siena 78
Yale 51 FINAL
(25) Arizona State 69
UC Santa Barbara 27 2nd Half 5:49
(16) Stanford 78
Long Island 51 2nd Half 11:54
Long Beach St 43
Jackson State 32 2nd Half 15:51
Louisiana 36
Eureka 29 2nd Half 20:00
Western Ill 49
Cornell 23 1st Half 7:07
(22) Syracuse 18
Temple 7:30 PM


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