Matt Cassel’s first game was what everyone though it would be—a success. He was confident and in control of the ball and his playmaking. Everyone in the organization is breathing a sigh of relief that the Vikings now have a cool and confident quarterback and have won their first game of the season. They will head into their bye week 1-3 and will come back October 13th at Mall of America field to face the Carolina Panthers.
Cassel is the breath of fresh air that the team needed to get out of the rut they found themselves in. He led the Vikings to their first two touchdowns to wide receivers and did not turn the ball over – which is a first for them this season. Receiver Greg Jennings’ catch-and-run in the first quarter put the Vikings up 10-0 after he ran 50-plus yards for the 70-yard score. Cassel completed his last 11 passes, finishing 16-of-25 for 248 yards and two touchdowns.
Vikings fans, players and coaches agree that Cassel should stay in the starting quarterback position. When Adrian Peterson was asked about who should be starting after the bye week his answer was simple and to the point, “What you think?” But Coach Leslie Frazier doesn’t see it as simple as the rest of us. Per the Pioneer Press:
Unwilling to declare what seems obvious, Frazier said it would be “premature” to assume Cassel had unseated Christian Ponder as the franchise’s No. 1 quarterback with his 248-yard, two-touchdown, zero interception, 123.4-QB rating act.
“If you’re asking, our quarterback is Christian Ponder,” a visibly relieved Frazier told reporters immediately after the game. “Now we’ll discuss a lot of things when we come out of the bye. We’re going to enjoy this victory for a little while at least.”
While many Vikings fans will (or won’t be) shocked at the comment, hopefully Coach Frazier will listen to the masses and more importantly his players. I understand loyalty to Ponder, he has been here for a while now and you as the boss want to say, “Hey we’re here for you good, bad or indifferent.” But at what point does the loyalty become crazy? Their numbers speak for themselves.
Politics aside—it wasn’t just Cassel was on point in this game. The offense and defense were able to find their backbones and actually look like a team who was reading the same playbook.
Aside from winning, what was vast about this game was that the Vikings defense was able to find redemption when they were able to stop Pittsburgh’s final attempt for a comeback at the 6-yard line when Jared Allen, Everson Griffen and Chad Greenway mobbed quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and forced a fumble that Kevin Williams recovered with eight seconds remaining.
While the defense is starting to claw their way back to the top, the standout for this game was of course, Jared Allen. He had 2.5 sacks, three quarterback hits and one pass defensed. “It felt good to get a little redemption,” Allen said. “Guys were fighting to make plays and that’s the way it should be. You should have to watch tape to sort it out.”