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Vikings Win a Thriller in London

 Ben Roethlisberger marched the Steelers down to the 6-yard line in the final drive looking to tie the game with a touchdown. With 19 seconds left in the game and the Vikings clinging to a 34-27 lead, Everson Griffen strip-sacked Big Ben and Kevin Williams recovered the ball to seal the first win of the season for Minnesota.

 The 83,518 fans that packed Wimbley Stadium in London saw a hard-fought exciting football game that was full of big plays.

Greg Jennings made two touchdown grabs, Adrian Peterson had two touchdown runs, Matt Cassel was 16 of 25 for 248 yards and no turnovers, and the defensive line lead by Jared Allen’s 2.5 sacks put pressure on Roethlisberger all game.

It’s hard to get excited after just one win in four tries, but the Vikings took five important steps forward:

 A) The defense got the monkey off their back by making a play late in the game to preserve a win.

B) The offense didn’t turn the ball over or make costly mistakes.

C) The offensive line looked more like the O-line from last season.

D) The wide receivers finally found the end zone.

E) The defense was able to consistently put pressure on the QB.


 If the Vikings can continue to do those things well… they will be a very difficult team to beat.


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Carl Knowles

Carl Knowles (Contributor) is a former member of the Professional Bowler Association and an avid lifelong Vikings fan. When he is not bowling you can find him on websites and forum pages sharing his creative insight and enthusiasm for the Minnesota Vikings any chance he gets. Carl was a Phoenix Institute of Technology and Purdue University standout who currently enjoys the challenge of being a graphic director in the printing business. You can follow him on twitter @carlknowles_vt.

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  1. Well put Carl. A win is a win…take it anytime anyplace. Cassel did well, can’t knock him.
    With Ponder probably out in two weeks (Maybe)…He’ll get another shot. I think he should.
    AD was great, Oline was better than it has been the last few weeks. Defense played okay…but not as good as they should.
    Step in the right direction. Bout time!

  2. Oh, and the Steeler O-line got away with some blatant holding. There were times I could NOT believe there was no call!

    1. I saw a minimum of four of those holds, all of them happening within a couple feet of the QB, so I’m really unsure how they missed the calls. If the defense can continue to get turnovers and pressure the passer I don’t care too much about giving up yardage, but we came 6 yards from having a 17 point lead erased in the 4th quarter. I hope todays pass rush is a taste of what we can expect to see the rest of the season, but that Pittsburg line is probably the worst unit in the league at the moment. Nice to get a win, hopefully they can build on it. Cassel wasn’t lights out, but I thought he did a good job moving in the pocket and not bailing on plays to quickly when things got uncomfortable. He and the line did a better job than I thought they would in this game.

  3. It was nice to see both Jared and Chad make some plays today.
    Cassell looked good, hope he can build on that. Maybe he can pull out a rabbit. . . .

  4. Regarding the non holding calls, this is a perfect example of the NFL on a world stage and the league instructing the officials to “let ’em play” to create a more watchable product. Too bad for us that the Steelers coaches knew this and the clueless Viking coaches did not.

    Am I the only person expecting Dugan to materialize out of no where and flatten a ref on Jennings catch and long run for a TD?

  5. it was a fun, exciting game, good to see all the purple in the stands. glad we won, but our pass D needs to heal and improve

    1. First game of the season that I had time to actually watch. That #41, Mistaken Raymond is turrible

      1. I thought both Raymond and Sendejo played better than Sanford has the first three weeks. I don’t understand the decision to have those two split reps though. Pick a guy and let him get a feel for the game. It has to be difficult to get a feel for things when they keep switching back and forth. I’m hoping they just did it so they can watch film on both guys and pick one to be the permanent starter after the bye week. I will be disappointed if they instantly give Sanford the job back when that hammy heals up. He really hasn’t earned the starting role with his play this year.

    1. Close second: Recovery of Cassell fumble for a first down after 2 Steelers let it slip through their mitts. If we had gotten that same break in the Cleveland game under very similar circumstances, we are probably 2-2. (I know all about “ifs and buts”… just sayin’)

      1. Man that was lucky. It’s nice to catch those breaks once in a while. Helluva way to get a first down.

  6. Vikings defense is horrific! They have been allowing an average of 31 points/game. That is unacceptable for a unit that was “suppose to” be a strong point of this team.

    1. Couldn’t agree more, Norse. Amazes me that people are all over Musgrave (Vikes averaging 29 pts./game), yet the defensive guy never even gets his name mentioned while his unit is at the bottom of the league. We just allowed 27 points to a team who had been averaging 14.

      1. I don’t think it’s amazing. Ponder was bad enough to draw attention his way. Cassell does enough that he doesn’t draw the eye for worst play, so it’s easier to focus on the fact our defense couldn’t cover a sleeping grandmother in a quilt factory.

        1. Not the “couldn’t cover” metaphor I would have chosen, but I see your point.

          Next we’ll be giving Cassell credit for the defense stopping Pittsburgh on the final drive. “They didn’t stop those drives when Ponder was QB!!”

          1. So we go from “Cassell does enough that he doesn’t draw the eye for worst play,” to “next we’ll be giving Cassell credit for the defense stopping Pittsburgh on the final drive”

            Evel Knievel hisself wouldn’t try to leap that chasm.

          2. I don’t think Ponder hits Jennings in the back of the end zone. And that slant pattern that he can’t seem to complete? Yeah.
            Have you seen the stat that shows Cassel in his one game as a Viking outplayed Ponders best…in his 29?

        2. I don’t think anyone has been giving the defense a pass at all. The biggest reason Musgrave was getting called out was because of obvious things such as personnel and formation alignments that have been ongoing issues since he took over as the OC. Like Tomb said, Ponder’s shaky play magnified the issues on offense so Musgrave was (and still is) an easy target. If his unit can play consistently good football like they did yesterday he won’t have to deal with criticism about not using the weapons he has at his disposal. I personally was willing to give the defense a bit of a break in the first couple games because that unit had a lot of changes this off-season, but we’re now a month into the regular season and it’s time to man up and start getting some stops.

        3. Im gonna suggest that for most of the game, our secondary covered fairly well. Seems to me that Big Ben had a long time in the pocket on many of the sacks, and other plays.. Wasnt due so much to lack of pressure, but the way he shifts around around back there. Once the 4th quarter hit, I see us go into rush 4, drop everyone else prevent. I liked so much more, the aggressive D we started off with.

      2. Ponder was not on the field when the defense folded like a cheap lawn chair in the last minute of the games against the Bears and the Browns. The Vikes scored enough points to win those games but the defense gave those games away. I also have another question. Where in the hell is Patterson!? Get him out on the field!

        1. I actually own one of those lawn chairs, Norse. I know exactly what you’re saying.

      3. Josh Robinson seems Overwhelmed a lot.
        Tomb is right, Erin Is terrible in pass coverage…

        1. Charlie, did you lose a bet to Tomb, or what? Tomb isn’t right twice in a month, much less in one post. Snap out of it, man.

          1. Well, if Charles lost a bet to me, that would indicate I was correct yet again about something.

            Coach, your confidence in my abilities feels good. Thank you.

    2. Norse,
      Agreed, I really hope they can get it together soon.
      So thankful we have a Bye …

  7. Time to bury that soft Tampa-2 defense. It is obsolete and very easy to attack. Denzel needs to swallow his pride and change schemes, too painful to watch anymore. I think we can put the Ponder experiment in the rear view mirror now. It was nice to see what a poised qb with a decent arm could do. Cassels presence elevated the whole offense and it’s obvious Muskrat is more comfortable with him under center.

      1. Do you mean LB corpse? Except for Greenway, they play like they have no life. Or am I dead wrong?

    1. Johnny,
      Was enjoyable to see Cassell in there. It made a difference in the way the Offense played. A lot smoother.

    2. Whether we should or not, johnny, I think you are going to be disappointed in thinking the “Ponder experiment” is in the rear view mirror. Cassell was acquired to address situations like the Packer playoff game last year, but in the eyes of the organization, Ponder is the QB of the future. I know a lot of people disagree with that thinking, but I think that’s where things are. Cassell may have afforded the Vikes to allow Ponder to heal an extra week, but as Denzel said after the game, Christian is our starting QB. I think it is a philosophical and long-range position.

      1. Yes, because actually hitting a receiver in stride is not part of our philosophical and long-range position. Ponder’s our guy.

  8. Erin Henderson is a nightmare in pass coverage. He was duped several times on mini pump fakes, and was almost always out of position.
    How about Jerome Simpson? The dude is coming up big so far….and the way Jennings looked, I’m suddenly very high on the receiving corps. Still surprised they are not going to Cordarrelle more….but his play on that pick in the endzone was certainly a huge one, and showed his nose for the football instincts.
    BTW, welcome back Jerome Felton. He looked rusty, but destroyed some people on AD’s bigger runs.

    1. “Erin Henderson is a nightmare in pass coverage.”

      From your lips to God’s ears. He’s brutal.

      1. Fozz,
        They looked good, And Cassell’s pass in the end zone to Jennings was nice !

  9. i thought our D was going to lose the game at the end again. idk if JA was good or their LT was bad, but allen had a very good game. the worry was supposed to be how we’d do against the read-option QBs, and we haven’t even played them yet

    cassel was an improvement. he was rusty at first, but finished well. if there’s a next time for him, who knows if he can keep it up. i’d bet they’ll start him the next game. i wonder if musgrave let him air it out more, or if cassel just took his own shots more often, but i liked it

  10. Do we win that game with Ponder? That’s a key question…And it has zero to do with how the defense played.
    I just don’t see how Frazier goes back to Ponder for the next game.

    1. Good and fair question, Cart. I will also offer that with Ponder’s mobility, we were in the same position to win the Cleveland game, while I question whether we would have been there with the less mobile Cassell. Far more pressure from the Cleveland front four than from the Steelers’. Anyone notice that the Bengals, who had averaged 25 through the first three games, could only manage 6 against the Browns? Our offense’s performance against the Browns was impressive, and should have gotten us a win.

      1. Cleveland has a good D, no doubt. Maybe we lose that one with Cassel…I don’t know.
        What I do know is the offense looked better with Cassel than with Ponder. Looked more in sync.
        Whether it was because Cassel is a different kind of QB than Ponder, or simply a better game plan. It was better. I don’t recall seeing those predictable play action roll left or right and dump to the TE for 2 yards. The play calling seemed better.
        I’m not saying Cassel is gonna light it up and take us to the playoffs…but right now, I believe he gives us a better chance to win. I’ve been around a little while, not as long as you Coach. But long enough to have seen a QB change make a difference in a season. And if the players feel it, and are behind it…it could be a good thing.

        1. The biggest difference I saw was the ability to finally stretch the field. Cassel seems to have a little more zip on the ball and a quicker release.

        2. Can’t’ disagree with anything there, cart. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, as it now sounds like Denzel is open to the possibility of staying with Cassel. We are sure stronger at this position than we were a year ago.

    2. i know what you mean, cart, and i agree. i’d also say our defense is affected by how our QB plays. a good QB leading a team improves how the whole team feels about themselves, defense included

      what i noticed about the difference between cassel and ponder is that ponder is still more like a college QB, and cassel is a professional. it’s in the way they carry themselves, and that rubs off on the rest of the team. it’s a big influence in football because there’s so many guys on a team, it’s like a field general and morale for an army, it’s sociological

      1. I find that interesting, CAL. Doesn’t seem like there was any reason for the defense to feel any better this past game than in the three others. The offense was scoring points and handing the game to the defense to win on the final drive in all three of the last games. Just not sure I see why the defense should “feel” any differently this week. I admit they were likely feeling like there was no way they dare let this happen for a third week in a row. Like I said, an interesting observation.

        1. i think guys will play better when they feel like they have a better QB. if guys have sandy koufax pitching, or michael jordan as your guard for your team, it picks you up and you’ll play better, not that cassel is at their level, but it happens with a lot of things, actors give better performances with deniro or spielberg than with a hack. should our defense feel that way? no, but they are human

          1. OK, some merit in that line of thinking. Not sure I believe the feeling among the players is as different between Cassell and Ponder like it is with a majority of the fans. Yes, there were favorable Cassell comments from players after the Pittsburgh game, but I had also heard favorable comments from players about Ponder, and comments in general are always more favorable after a win. I think if the defense holds Cleveland out in game three, the locker room would have been favorable toward Ponder in leading them to 27 points, scoring twice, and keeping drives alive with his legs, that sort of thing. Who knows?

            Begs this question, tough. Nothing against Carl here, he’s a darn good hack blogger, but would we be commenting better if Adam were back? I mean, Freds is AWOL here,

  11. Cassel had a lower QB rating than Ponder did in the first 3 games. Cassel was nothing special.

    1. I think if you add up all three ponder games he beats cassell. ..otherwise 123 is pretty good rating for our NEW qb…