Quarterback Andy Dalton had a big day as he led the Bengals to a 42-14 win over the Vikings. This one was over by halftime, as the Bengals built a 28-7 lead. The Bengals had plenty to play for as the win secures them a playoff spot.
After a great game last week against the Eagles, quarterback Matt Cassel struggled against the Bengals' top-10 ranked defense. He accounted for all four of the Vikings turnovers in this game.
The lone bright spot for the Vikings was rookie Cordarrelle Patterson, as he continued to make teams regret kicking him the ball.
The loss drops the Vikings to 4-10-1, with one more game remaining.
Here are some takeaways from this tough loss.
Cordarrelle Patterson has a way of influencing a game. Against the Bengals, he did a little bit of everything. He was the only player the Bengals could not shut down.
For the rookie wide receiver, his pass catching was the weakest part of his game—of course, the Bengals' defense had a lot to say about that.
Patterson finished with 143 yards on four kick returns. He led the Vikings with 54 rushing yards on three carries, including a 35-yard touchdown run when he lined up in the backfield, and he caught three passes for a disappointing eight yards.
Still, his 205 all-purpose yards were more than the combined total for the rest of the Vikings.
The rest of the team had 15 kick-return yards, 22 punt-return yards, 106 receiving yards and 61 rushing yards—that totals 204 yards.
It's amazing what a good defense can do to a quarterback controversy.
Last week, quarterback Matt Cassel looked like a world beater against Philadelphia's 31st-ranked passing defense. Against the Bengals, Cassel looked a lot like Christian Ponder. He had four turnovers in the game, with three of them in the first half that helped Cincinnati jump out to a 28-7 lead.
The first turnover came on Cassel's first pass attempt of the game. Facing a 3rd-and-6 from the Bengals' 46-yard line, Cassel fumbled the ball on a sack by Vincent Rey. The ball was returned to the Vikings' 4-yard line, and the Bengals scored two plays later.
The second didn't even give the Bengals offense a chance to convert it into points, as Rey returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown.
The third came with 9:22 left in the second quarter. On a 2nd-and-10 from the 25-yard line, wide receiver Jerome Simpson had beaten the Bengals' defense deep down the field, and Cassel woefully under threw the ball for his second interception.
He only played slightly better in the second half with a single interception. He finished 13-of-27 passing with one touchdown and three interceptions. The Bengals put pressure on Cassel the entire game. He was sacked four times and hit another six times as he struggled to establish any kind of rhythm on offense.
Just as quarterback Matt Cassel struggled to pass the ball against the Cincinnati defense, running back Adrian Peterson struggled to run against it.
In the first half, he had only 34 yards on 10 carries. After gaining 11 yards on his first carry of the third quarter, he was pulled from the game. He finished with 45 yards on 11 carries.
There was no word from the Fox broadcast that Peterson had suffered an injury.
The Vikings either needed to use Peterson or shut him down—with nothing to gain, and plenty to lose, they should shut him down if he is hurting.
Andy Dalton had a field day against the Minnesota Vikings defense. He completed passes to eight different receivers as he finished 27-of-38 passing for 366 yards and four touchdowns. He finished with a passer rating of 136.5.
With plenty of time to locate receivers, Dalton picked apart the Vikings defense. He had a 28-7 lead at halftime and promptly led the Bengals' offense on an 80-yard touchdown drive to open the third quarter.
Perhaps it all stems from the knee injury his rookie season in 2010, preventing Chris Cook from fulfilling the expectations the Minnesota Vikings had when they drafted him in the second round.
Not only has Cook been unable to play an entire 16-game schedule, but when he does play, he just doesn't look like he has the ability to elevate and defend the pass. On a two-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver A.J. Green in the third quarter, Cook tried his best to break up and play. He was called for pass interference, but Green still made the catch.
It was the second touchdown catch for Green with Cook trying to cover him. In the first quarter, Green caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Andy Dalton.
In his five previous seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, defensive end Jared Allen has averaged 15 sacks per season. His lowest sack total for the Vikings was 11 in 2010.
With a 0.5 sack against the Bengals, Allen leads the team with 9.5 sacks. He will need at least 1.5 sacks against the Detroit Lions next week to match his poorest season in Minnesota.
Since he's a free agent, the only way he returns is at a very discounted price.
There were some thoughts that perhaps head coach Leslie Frazier could save his job with a three-game winning streak to close out the season. After going 1-7 in the first half of the season, the Vikings seemed to figure something out. After defeating the Eagles 48-30, they were 3-2-1 heading into Week 16.
With this embarrassing, 42-14 loss to the Bengals, the debate is over—Frazier will be looking for another employer in 2014.
An article by Dan Hanzus on NFL.com last Sunday already indicated that Frazier will most likely be fired when the season ends.