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 mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


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Matt Cassel will remain the starting quarterback

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated September 14th at 9:34pm 275064381

Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel tied his career high with four interceptions in the 30-7 loss to the Patriots on Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium. It’s his 19th career regular season game with multiple interceptions and third in eight starts with the Vikings.

But Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer won’t make a change heading into Week 3 against the Saints, naming Cassel as the starter after the game.

“As I’ve said before, I’m going to hold the quarterback position just like every position here to the same standard,” Zimmer said. “And I also said I wasn’t going to have a quick hook. Matt needs to play better. It’s pretty obvious he needs to play better. We all need to play better. I need to coach better.”

Cassel’s performance hindered an offense playing without running back Adrian Peterson, who was deactivated after being indicted and charged on one count of injury to a child in Montgomery County (Texas). Cassel looked sharp on the opening drive, which lasted seven plays and 80 yards, finding running back Matt Asiata for a 25-yard touchdown pass. It was the only time Cassel looked sharp. His play regressed as the game progressed, missing open receivers and failing to sustain drives.

The Patriots scored 17 points on Cassel’s turnovers. He was also sacked six times after having a clean pocket against the Rams last week. Cassel said he appreciated Zimmer immediately naming him the starting quarterback next week after his performance.

“There’s no doubt it, today was a rough day for me,” Cassel said. “You want to put your team in a great position to win and like I said, I take full responsibility for not taking care of the football today. I’ve got to do a better job, and I will.”

The fans began chanting “Teddy” as the offense struggled after the opening drive, hoping to see rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater replace Cassel at some point in the game. It never happened and doesn’t appear it will over the next week.

“Of course the crowd’s going to do that when the quarterback starts doing bad, but Matt – he’s a heck of a quarterback,” wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson said. “I love him to death. If Teddy gets his shine, Teddy gets his shine. But Matt is our starting quarterback, and Matt’s going to play. Our hats off to Matt for taking that pressure from the fans.

“I stand behind Matt with just me and him; it’s just me and Matt out there. I’ll stand behind him each day, because I respect him, the things he do and what he brings to this game every day.”

Craig: Initial thoughts on Vikings' 30-7 loss

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated September 14th at 6:05pm 275062701

Initial thoughts?

Well, for starters, I’m not willing to pin this on Adrian Peterson being deactivated because of his indictment on Friday. I predicted the Vikings would be out of sorts at the beginning of the game because of Peterson’s absence. But the opposite was true. They took the opening kickoff — after New England won the coin toss and deferred — and drove 80 yards in seven plays for a 25-yard touchdown pass to Matt Asiata, Peterson’s replacement.

Obviously, Peterson not playing isn’t a good thing. But I wouldn’t pin this loss on that. It’s too convenient. The Vikings lost because 24 points came off of four Matt Cassel interceptions and a blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown.

The average scoring drive for New England’s offense: 33 yards. So while the defense didn’t play great, particularly against the run or in creating turnovers (0), it also isn’t the reason the Vikings lost.

Cassel had the biggest hand in the loss. Three of his four picks were his fault. But this is what Matt is, which is up and down. As well as we all remember him playing during last year’s three-headed quarterback fiasco, he also laid some stinkers at home against Carolina and on the road in Cincinnati.

Coach Mike Zimmer also was wise not to throw Teddy Bridgewater into a lopsided loss and to announced today that Cassel will start next week at New Orleans. Cassel deserves a leash that’s longer than one bad game.

Vikings won't discuss Peterson's status until next week

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated September 14th at 6:30pm 275062071

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said the organization will discuss running back Adrian Peterson’s future at some point next week. Zimmer declined to talk about the 2012 NFL MVP that was deactivated for the Vikings 30-7 loss to the Patriots on Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium. Peterson was indicted and charged one count of injury to a child in Montgomery County (Texas) over the last three days.

“I don’t want to discuss the Adrian issue at all today,” Zimmer said after the game. “This is about the football game here. We’ll talk about it Monday or whenever we have the press conference on.”

Zimmer was pressed with Peterson questions throughout the press conference, though he continued to decline comment on the running back’s future.

“We’re just trying to get through the weekend right now and figure out where everything is,” Zimmer said. “And again, I don’t really want to talk about it. You guys can keep asking me, and I’ll give you the same answer.”

Zimmer said the game plan offensively didn’t change much after the Vikings officially deactivated Peterson on Friday, two days before the game. Though he did admit removing the best player from a team would have an impact, Zimmer wasn’t using Peterson’s absence as an excuse for the team’s performance.

“I think he could’ve gotten injured on the first play of the game,” Zimmer countered when asked about Peterson’s impact. “We’ve got to go on and go about it. It’s just part of life. Would we like to have him? Sure. But I think anytime you lose your best player, it is a team game. Everybody has to step up. I’m sure when [Aaron] Rodgers went down last year, they had to suck it up and go. We’ve got to suck it up, too. We didn’t do it today.”

Most players in the locker room declined to comment on Peterson. Running back Matt Asiata, who replaced Peterson in the starting lineup, came in support for his teammate. Asiata had 13 carries for 36 yards in his second career start. He also had five catches for 48 yards and hauled in his first career touchdown reception on the game's opening drive.

“It’s really tough,” Asiata said. Since I’ve been here, he’s been a brother to me. I always try to have his back, and I support him 100 percent. I just wish he’ll be back soon.”

Greg Jennings reaches 500 career receptions

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated September 14th at 2:46pm 275058151

It took a lot longer than probably expected, but wide receiver Greg Jennings made his first catch with 10:55 left in the game.
The four-yard gain was also his 500th career reception. He becomes the 121st player in NFL history, and one of 14 active players, to accomplish the milestone.

Jennings appeared to have reached the landmark late in the first half, but he was called for offensive pass interference on the catch. Jennings was targeted four times previously before the catch.

Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis has shadowed Jennings for most of the game, making him an non-factor in the blowout.

Halftime report: Patriots 24, Vikings 7

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated September 14th at 1:37pm 275055771

At the half, the Patriots lead the Vikings 24-7 in the home opener at TCF Bank Stadium. Defensive end Chandler Jones blocked a 48-yard field goal and returned it 58 yards for a touchdown with nine seconds left in the first half.

The Good: The Vikings couldn’t have asked for a better start without running back Adrian Peterson. Quarterback Matt Cassel engineered seven-play, 80-yard drive that was capped with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Peterson’s replacement, Matt Asiata.

Offensive coordinator Norv Turner finished the drive with two great plays using wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson as a decoy on a fake jet sweep and a play action pass with Patterson in the backfield.

The defense responded by forcing the Patriots to a 3-and-out on their opening drive.

The Bad: Then, we saw bad Cassel for the first time this season. He didn’t look the same following the opening drive, throwing two bad interceptions to cornerback Darrelle Revis and safety Devin McCourty. Both turnovers resulted in touchdowns for New England. Running back Stevan Ridley scored on a one-yard run while quarterback Tom Brady connected with wide receiver Julian Edelman for an 11-yard yard touchdown.

Cassel went 4 for 4 for 75 yards and a touchdown on the first drive. He’s gone 8 of 15 for 69 yards and two interceptions since the Vikings took an early 7-0 lead.

The Ugly: It hasn’t mattered who the Vikings put on Edelman in the first half. Xavier Rhodes, Captain Munnerlyn, Josh Robinson — they’re all getting beat.

Edelman accounted for five of Brady’s nine first half completions and has converted all three of New England’s third downs. He has 69 receiving yards and a touchdown. Edelman also had an effective jet sweep that gained nine yards.

Oh, and there’s that blocked field goal right before the half. The Vikings had a chance to trim the deficit down to one score, but the 10-point swing was a deflating way to enter the locker room.

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