Lions vs. Vikings: Takeaways from Minnesota's 14-13 Win over Detroit
The Minnesota Vikings shut down the Metrodome on a high note. More accurately, a rookie wide receiver turned the Metrodome into the Cordarrelle Patterson show.
Patterson scored both of the Vikings' touchdowns. He scored on a 50-yard run in the first quarter and caught an eight-yard touchdown pass in the fourth to give the Vikings a 14-13 win over the Detroit Lions.
The win closed out a tough season that could possibly be the last game with the Vikings for several players, as well the head coach. It also helped the Vikings finish with a 4-3-1 record over the second half of the season.
Here are some takeaways from the final game played in the Metrodome.
Cordarrelle Patterson Has More Than Replaced Percy Harvin
This will be the last time that Cordarrelle Patterson is described as a rookie.
Against the Lions, he did a little bit of everything to help the Vikings win.
He rushed for 54 yards on two carries—one for a 50-yard touchdown, and the other for a first down. It was his third rushing touchdown of the season. According to the Daily Norseman, it's the most rushing touchdowns in a single season by a Vikings wide receiver.
He caught two passes for 31 yards—the first for an eight-yard touchdown that gave the Vikings a 14-13 lead. The second was a 23-yard gain in the fourth quarter that allowed the Vikings to hold onto the ball and run out the clock.
He also had three kick returns for 51 yards. That gave him 1,393 yards for the season, breaking the single-season record of 1,345 yards set by Buster Rhymes in 1985.
Matt Asiata Has Another Peterson-Like Game
In his first NFL start in Week 15, running back Matt Asiata had a game very much like Adrian Peterson. Against the Eagles, he scored three touchdowns, tying the single-game record for a Vikings running back.
The downside to his performance in that game was that he only gained 51 yards on 30 carries.
In the Metrodome's final game, Asiata had another game much like Adrian Peterson. In only his second start of his career, he finished with 115 yards on 14 carries—a hefty 8.2 yards per carry.
His clutch performance in place of Peterson gives the Vikings some flexibility at running back. They don't have to concern themselves with Toby Gerhart becoming a free agent.
Matt Cassel Is Not the Long-Term Answer
This game should never have been this close.
The Minnesota Vikings had a chance to go up 14-0 in the second quarter. After getting the Vikings to a 1st-and-goal at the Lions' 2-yard line, quarterback Matt Cassel missed a wide-open Jared Allen, who lined up at tight end.
He then missed on a pass attempt to wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, and on 3rd-and-goal he threw an interception in the end zone that was returned to the 36-yard line.
Cassel finished the game completing 20-of-33 passes for 189 yards with a touchdown and an interception—results very similar to games that Christian Ponder has had. His passer rating was 73.9.
Cassel is too inconsistent to be a full-time starter in the NFL, and that's why the Vikings will look to draft a quarterback and keep Cassel as the backup.
Jared Allen Avoids the Worst Season as a Viking
With two sacks of quarterback Matthew Stafford, defensive end Jared Allen avoided closing out the season with his lowest number of sacks as a Viking. In 2010, he finished with only 11 sacks.
He entered the game tied with Brian Robison for the team lead in sacks with 9.5. He finishes with 11.5 sacks. He has 85.5 as a Viking, and he's led the team in sacks since joining Minnesota in 2008. With his franchise-record 22 sacks in 2011, Allen has averaged 14.2 sacks per season.
Set to become a free agent, Allen may have played his last game as a Viking.
Marcus Sherels Is a Very Good Punt Returner
Marcus Sherels' 50-yard punt return in the fourth quarter saved the game for the Minnesota Vikings.
Before his return, the Vikings had only run nine plays in the second half for a total of 21 yards. He gave the Vikings a 1st-and-goal on the Lions' 8-yard line.
Two plays later, quarterback Matt Cassel connected with Cordarrelle Patterson for the go-ahead touchdown.
Sherels finished with three punt returns for a total of 77 yards. He came very close to scoring his third touchdown on a punt return. He is currently tied for the franchise lead with two touchdowns.
Erin Henderson Made the Most of His Opportunity to Start
Ever since Erin Henderson missed the game against the Packers in Week 12 for personal reasons, he has been in someone's doghouse.
Second-year linebacker Audie Cole had taken over at middle linebacker for Henderson, making five straight starts. Cole was inactive for the game with an ankle injury, putting Henderson back in the starting lineup.
He finished with seven tackles, two for a loss, a sack and two quarterback hits.
Henderson is under contract for another season. It will be interesting to see where he plays next season—whether it will be with the Vikings or not.
An Ugly Win May Not Be Enough to Save Leslie Frazier's Job
At least head coach Leslie Frazier can go out as a winner—sort of.
With the 14-13 win over the Detroit Lions, the Minnesota Vikings finished 5-10-1 this season. On the one hand, with so many injuries to some key positions, that might be considered a fairly good accomplishment.
On the other hand, a 21-32-1 record over three-plus seasons is not very good.
After leading the Vikings to the playoffs with a 10-6 record last season, the expectations were a little higher for this season.
A Fitting Game to End the Metrodome Era
It's been called the Roller Dome, the Humpty-Dumpty Dome, a waste of concrete and steel and one of the most sterile sports stadiums there has ever been.
It's also been the site of two World Series, an MLB All-Star Game, a Super Bowl and an NCAA Final Four.
With the tough season the Minnesota Vikings had this year, it was fitting that it ended with an ugly 14-13 win over the Detroit Lions.
It was a meaningless game without two of the NFL's best offensive players—Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson and running back Adrian Peterson.
It ended with both teams looking inept for a half.
The Lions finished the first half with only three first downs and five punts. Their offense only had a total of 56 yards in the first two quarters.
In the second half, the Vikings only had one drive for five plays in the third quarter as the Lions scored 13 unanswered points to take a 13-7 lead. Their first three drives in the second half resulted in two punts and a lost fumble.
The Vikings' fourth-quarter touchdown came after a 50-yard punt return gave them the ball on the 8-yard line.