Vikings vs. Bengals: Full Roster Report Card Grades for Minnesota
The Minnesota Vikings fell flat on their backsides against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. Both teams kept a streak intact as the Vikings failed to win on the road this season, and the Bengals remained perfect at Paul Brown Stadium.
The Vikings were able to hang with the AFC North leaders for about 20 minutes. The score at the end of the first quarter was 14-7 in favor of the Bengals, but it didn't take long after that for Cincinnati to pull away to a 42-14 win.
Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton picked apart the Vikings defense for 366 yards and four touchdowns. The win clinched a playoff berth for the Bengals, who improved to 10-5. While the loss dropped the Vikings to 4-10-1, it did not improve their draft position. Depending on the outcome of the Falcons game in San Francisco, the Vikings are still slated to pick eighth.
All in all, it was not a good day for the Vikings as a team.
About the only performance that stood out was that for rookie wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, the Vikings' new do-it-all player. Patterson finished with 205 all-purpose yards and one of the Vikings' touchdown.
Here are the roster grades from Sunday's blowout to the Bengals.
Matt Cassel: F
Matt Cassel's bad day started with a lost fumble on his first pass attempt and ended with three more interceptions. He did manage to throw a first-quarter touchdown to tie the game at seven. He finished 13-of-27 passing for only 114 yards. His passer rating for the game was a putrid 32.6—even lower than Josh Freeman's passer rating against the Giants in Week 7.
Christian Ponder: N/A
Talk about a banged-up bunch. The top three running backs on the Minnesota Vikings' roster was on the injury report this week.
Adrian Peterson struggled to gain yards against the Bengals defense. He had only 34 yards on 10 carries in the first half. His longest gain of the game was an 11-yard run on his first carry of the second half—and then he disappeared. He finished with 45 yards on 11 carries and no touchdowns.
Toby Gerhart: Incomplete
Toby Gerhart did step on the field, but he did not get a carry or catch a pass in the game.
Joe Banyard: C
Just called up from the practice squad, Joe Banyard made his season debut and caught one pass for 11 yards.
Matt Asiata: Inactive
Cordarrelle Patterson: A
Even though he is a wide receiver, he's included here since he led the Vikings with 54 rushing yards on three carries. His 35-yard touchdown run came on a play where he lined up in the backfield.
Overall grade: D
Discounting Patterson's contribution since he is not officially a running back.
Greg Jennings: D+
Greg Jennings led the Vikings with four receptions—but they only gained 27 yards.
Cordarrelle Patteson: D
The Vikings continue to mainly use Patterson on screen passes. The Bengals were able to shut him down, limiting him to only eight yards on three catches.
Jerome Simpson: D-
It was not a great return to Cincinnati for Jerome Simpson, where he played his four seasons. He finished with one catch for eight yards. There was one pass intended for him in the second quarter that wound up being intercepted. There should have been a pass-interference penalty on the call, as cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and safety George Iloka pulled him down before the ball arrived.
Jarius Wright: B-
As the Vikings' fourth wide receiver, Jarius Wright doesn't get a lot of chances, but he seems to make the most of them. He finished with one catch for 36 yards and a touchdown. He made a nice double move that got him behind the Bengals defense.
Joe Webb: Incomplete
Joe Webb was on the field for a few plays, mainly as a blocker.
Overall grade: D
The Vikings wide receiver cannot help who is throwing the football, but a total of nine catches for only 79 yards is not good.
John Carlson: N/A
On Saturday, the Vikings placed John Carlson on injured reserve. He suffered a concussion against the Ravens in Week 14.
Chase Ford: D
With the Vikings' top two tight ends winding up on injured reserve, Chase Ford has ascended to the No. 1 tight end position. He had two passes thrown in his direction but did not make a reception.
Rhett Ellison: C-
It might be the injuries, but the Vikings have struggled to get a lot of production from their tight ends. Ellison finished with two catches for 22 yards.
Overall grade: D+
Just like for the wide receivers, the low grade is due to the poor quarterback play.
Run Blocking: C
The best running back in the NFL was only able to gain 45 yards on 11 carries. The Vikings finished with a total of 115 rushing yards on 17 carries—a decent 6.8 yards per attempt.
Pass Protection: D
The Bengals were able to put a lot of pressure on quarterback Matt Cassel. He was sacked four times, and hit another six, as the Vikings offense was unable to generate any momentum.
Overall Grade: D+
Jared Allen: C-
Jared Allen finished with four tackles, a 0.5 sack and a quarterback hit. He will need at least 1.5 sacks in the final game of the season to match his lowest sack total as a Viking.
Kevin Williams: D
Kevin Williams seems to be going out with a whimper. He had only one tackle against the Bengals.
Letroy Guion: D
Letroy Guion started alongside Williams and finished with two tackles.
Brian Robison: D+
Brian Robison came into the game with six sacks in the past five games. He was shutout against the Bengals and finished with only three tackles.
Everson Griffen: B-
The Vikings' top backup, Everson Griffen had the best performance on the defensive line against the Bengals. He finished with 1.5 sacks and two quarterback hits. He also had five tackles—two of them for a loss.
Sharrif Floyd: C-
A lot more was expected from the Vikings' top draft pick. Sharrif Floyd finished with three tackles. He also knocked down a pass at the line of scrimmage.
Fred Evans: Incomplete
According to the National Football Game Summary, Fred Evans played, but he did not make it in the box score.
The defensive line didn't get any pressure on quarterback Andy Dalton, until most of the damage was done.
Chad Greenway: C-
Chad Greenway finished with eight tackles in the game, but none of them were the kind that shifted the momentum in the game.
Audie Cole: Incomplete
Audie Cole started his fifth game of the season, but an injury knocked him out of the game without recording a tackle.
Erin Henderson: C+
Erin Henderson started at weak-side linebacker and took over at middle linebacker after Cole's injury. He finished with a team-high 12 tackles. He also forced a fumble in the first quarter—of course it came on a pass play where he was beaten on the pass play.
Marvin Mitchell: C-
Marvin Mitchell got on the field after Cole was injured. He finished with seven tackles in the game. Like Greenway, none of his tackles stick out as a game changer.
The individual performances alone don't seem that bad, but when you put them together and see what the Bengals were able to do on offense—it was not a good day for anyone on defense.
This is another position that has suffered a significant number of injuries. It's almost like the group is taking on the personality of its senior member—fourth-year cornerback Chris Cook.
Chris Cook: F
Cook gave up two touchdown passes to wide receiver A.J. Green and was credited with breaking up a pass. On the play, Cook had position and should have had his first NFL interception.
Marcus Sherels: C-
Marcus Sherels was the best of a lousy bunch. He finished with seven tackles and was credited with breaking up two passes.
Shaun Prater: D
There's a reason he was not active until the Vikings lost their top two cornerbacks. He finished with two tackles and gave up one of Dalton's four touchdown passes.
Dalton finished with 366 passing yards and four touchdowns—no one looked good on defense.
Harrison Smith: D
Coming off an injury that knocked him out for most of the season, Harrison Smith made only his sixth start of the season. He finished with seven tackles, but none of them were for a loss. Cincinnati tight end Jermaine Gresham caught a 16-yard touchdown pass between safeties Smith and Andrew Sendejo.
Jamarca Sanford: D+
Jamarca Sanford finished with only four tackles. Like Smith, none of them changed the momentum of the game.
Andrew Sendejo: D
Still getting plenty of playing time, Sendejo finished with only three tackles in the game.
Robert Blanton: D
Because of all the injuries to the cornerback position, Blanton is on the field as an extra defensive back. He had three tackles in the game.
None of the safeties broke up a pass in this game as Dalton completed 27 passes.
Blair Walsh: C
It's not Blair Walsh's fault the offense could not generate any scoring opportunities. He converted both extra points and did not allow a kick return.
Jeff Locke: C
Jeff Locke finished with only a 39.4-yard average on five punts. He did put two of them inside the 20-yard line.
Cordarrelle Patterson: B
The only bright spot for the Vikings on special teams was Patterson. He finished with 143 yards on four kick returns, giving the offense good starting position. It's a shame the offense couldn't turn it into more points.
Marcus Sherels: C+
Sherels returned one of four punts for 22 yards.
The special teams play did not help the outcome of the game—but it's not their fault.