First-place Philadelphia, the hottest team in the NFL, winners of five in a row looking to pad their NFC East lead, ran into a frustrated group of Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. Playing the next-to-last game in the history of Mall of America Field (the Metro Dome), the Vikings finally put it all together even with starting quarterback Christian Ponder, NFL MVP Adrian Peterson and several others unable to play due to injuries.
The Vikings released some frustration by jumping all over the Eagles 48-30. The wrecking ball cranes are all lined up outside the Dome as the countdown has begun to destroy the historic second home of Vikings football since 1982. Reserve running back Matt Asiata, in his first NFL start at running back, scored three touchdowns.
Backup quarterback Matt Cassell threw for 382 yards and two touchdowns and has suddenly become the clear choice at quarterback. Cassell also ran for another score while hooking up with Greg Jennings 11 times for a career-best 163 yards and a touchdown. Jared Allen and Brian Robison both had two sacks each.
The Vikings, now 4-9-1, is the only team in the NFC North not in the race for the lone playoff spot. But much is at stake in this transition season of Vikings football; players and coaches are being evaluated, like all the other league’s players. After all, they are all professionals, and contracts and careers will meet at a crossroad.
This week the Vikings travel to Cincinnati to play another first-place team, the Bengals, leaders of the AFC North in the final road game of the season. The Vikings did win 34-27 in London vs. Pittsburgh on September 29, but that was deemed a road game. This is the last chance for the Vikings to win on the road. So far they are 0-6-1 on the road this season.
Will Adrian Peterson return to action? That decision will be made this week by Head Coach Leslie Frazier. Many fans who are clueless assume that the Vikings should just lie down and lose and give themselves the best position for the next Draft in 2014. But that is not how this business works — every team and player is fighting to win now. If they were not, they would not be professionals.
The Vikings suddenly have caught fire offensively. In their last five quarters they have scored 68 points! Sunday’s 48 were the most ever scored by a Vikings team in the history of the Dome.
The stories a stadium could tell about Cris Carter’s 1,000th catch, Sunday brunches at the tailgates, and Adrian Peterson running for the record books. The Vikings have made history in this stadium, and this is just the beginning. December 29: Circle the date on your calendar for the final game ever vs. Detroit at Mall of America Field.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.