The Vikings had been on a nice little run as spoilers, and then their trip to Cincinnati happened. The Vikings went into Paul Brown Stadium looking like a team that could give the Bengals a good scrap, and left looking like scraps.
It got ugly early and then got uglier. Matt Cassel was strip-sacked by blitzing Bengals on the game’s third play and the ball was recovered by Carlos Dunlap at the Vikings’ 4. The Bengals quickly cashed in the turnover, going up 7-0.
The Vikings answered swiftly when Jarius Wright burned Dre Kirkpatrick on a double move and Matt Cassel dropped the ball into his hands for a long touchdown. But that would be the last offensive highlight of the half for Minnesota.
After that it was pure Bengals domination. A.J. Green burned Chris Cook for a touchdown. Vincent Rey picked off Matt Cassel and returned it for a touchdown. George Iloka picked Cassel off again after a ball bounced off Dre Kirkpatrick’s helmet and into his waiting hands. The Bengals cashed that one in on a Dalton-to-Jermaine Gresham 16-yard TD.
Bengals up 28-7 at the half.
Cincinnati kept the pedal to the metal in the second half. Giovani Bernard danced and spun and slashed his way through helplessly flailing Vikings defenders for a highlight-reel 41-yard gain on a screen pass. On the next play Dalton hit Mohammed Sanu for a touchdown.
Cincinnati’s next score came when A.J. Green once again burned Chris Cook. The Vikings got a second TD of the game in garbage time when Cordarrelle Patterson took a toss 35 yards for a TD.
Final score, 42-14 Cincinnati. Matt Cassel’s stats? Ugly ugly ugly. 13-27 for 114 yards, 1 TD and 3 INTs. Do people still think Matt Cassel is the long-term answer for Minnesota?
Adrian Peterson got nothing going on the ground for the Vikings, rushing for just 45 yards on 11 carries. Peterson still looks far from 100% coming off a sprained foot and still nursing a sore groin. Adrian may be a tough hombre but even he looks like he’s ready for the offseason.
Defensively, it was just a terrible showing by the Vikings. Except for a couple garbage time sacks, the defensive line did next to nothing. The secondary struggled all day trying to contain the Bengals’ fantastic receivers. Giovani Bernard did not have a huge day running the ball but he did have the one big reception. The Vikings’ tackling was brutal on that play and overall it was not an impressive showing by the D.
The Bengals’ playmakers showed up, and the Vikings’ playmakers for the most part did not. Matt Cassel reverted back to the Matt Cassel who last year struggled to retain his starting job with Brady Quinn behind him on the bench. It was an uninspired, unfocused, unaesthetic performance by the Vikings.
Only one more left and then this less-than-memorable 2013 season will be only a memory.