The Minnesota Vikings finally get their first (home) win against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The final score of 34-27 was across the pond in Wembley Stadium. The big story was Christian Ponder out with a broken rib and how Matt Cassel would step in to lead the team. Cassel answered that question fairly quick against a slumping Steelers team.
As Ponder’s replacement, Cassel threw for 248 yards and two touchdowns. Even with a passer rating of 123.4, the biggest stat of the game for Cassel was zero interceptions. He looked exceptional for the entire game. The offense fed off of his success and guys like Greg Jennings and Jerome Simpson stepped up to make plays for the backup quarterback.
Simpson came up with a bunch of great snags for a total of 124 yards. Jennings made perhaps the most explosive play of the season in the 1st quarter with his 70-yard touchdown catch and run. He finished the game with 92 yards and two touchdowns.
Adrian Peterson was happy to get his fullback back to block for him, as Jerome Felton finished his 3 game suspension. He had an electric performance with 140 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 23 carries, including a 60-yard touchdown run in the 3rd quarter. Peterson explained to the media how he wasn’t the only guy who enjoyed the game, “You could tell guys were buying into it.”
The defense looked great all game, until they scared Vikings faithful when they nearly blew a 17 point lead going into the fourth quarter. It almost looked like it was to good to be true, but Everson Griffen stepped up and sacked Ben Roethlisberger forcing a fumble that the Vikings recovered on 3rd and goal.
After the game, head coach Leslie Frazier said, “Christian Ponder is our quarterback.”
Now the question remains, should Ponder be the starter after the bye? I think he remains the starter just of because the amount of time and effort the team invested in him. That’s unfortunate in my opinion because I think Cassel is deserving of the spot. He looked good all preseason and showed his ability to get the offense rolling early and consistently through the game. If Ponder gets the nod against Carolina, I expect the offense to go back to it’s old ways. I think that will cost Ponder the starting spot and inevitably put Cassel in the driver’s seat.
The Vikings head into the bye week with a big decision leading up to the Carolina Panthers game in Week 6.