Cassel leads Vikings to win
Matt Cassel passed for two touchdowns and 382 yards, the most by Minnesota since Brett Favre was in charge, and ran for another score to lead the injury-depleted Vikings to a 48-30 victory over Philadelphia on Sunday to snap a five-game winning streak by the Eagles.
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With Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart out, Matt Asiata rushed for his first three career touchdowns and Greg Jennings caught a career-high 11 passes for 163 yards for the Vikings (4-9-1). Playing for pride and probably coach Leslie Frazier's job, they produced quite the spoiler performance against the previously surging Eagles (8-6).
Fresh from a decisive win at home over Detroit in the snow to take control of the NFC East, the Eagles fell flat in the controlled climate of the soon-to-be-demolished dome. They took a one-game lead over Dallas into the weekend and must play at the Cowboys the last week of the season.
Nick Foles threw second-half touchdown scores to DeSean Jackson, Zach Ertz and Jason Avant, but he was picked off by former teammate Shaun Prater at the Minnesota 5-yard line in the third quarter. League rushing leader LeSean McCoy had 38 yards on only eight carries after posting a career-high 217 yards last week.
Foles finished with 428 yards on 30-for-48 passing, including 10 completions for 195 yards to DeSean Jackson, but he took four sacks -- two each by Jared Allen and Brian Robison -- and misfired often on his downfield passes.
The Eagles had nine penalties for 94 yards.
Cassel completed 26 of 35 passes and improved to 2-2 as a starter.
In two other games, he relieved an injured Christian Ponder and helped guide the Vikings to victory. Asiata needed 30 attempts to total 51 yards, but he helped the Vikings control the clock after taking an early lead and never letting up. Their time of possession was 36 minutes, 26 seconds.
After nine straight games of allowing 21 points or less, the Eagles gave up their highest total since a 52-20 loss at Denver on Sept. 29. They cut the lead to 27-22 on a tricky catch in the back of the end zone by Ertz with 15 seconds left in the third quarter, but the 2-point conversion pass was broken up.
The Eagles refused to kick deep to rookie Cordarrelle Patterson, the NFL leader in average yards per return, and the Vikings took advantage of the enhanced field position. After yet another short pooch kick by Alex Henery, they started with the ball at their own 46 and cruised to the end zone in six plays to push the lead back to 12 points.
The Vikings forced two more punts and made it 41-22 after Patterson's touchdown reception, his third score in as many weeks.
The Vikings played their second-to-last game at the 32-year-old Metrodome in a library-like atmosphere, with a barely-above-zero temperature outside and a lost season clearly keeping fans away or at least tempering their game-day exuberance. The Vikings were mathematically eliminated from playoffs contention last Sunday at Baltimore, the fifth time this year they led with less than 52 seconds left and failed to win.
This week, in addition to their top two running backs, they were missing their top two tight ends, starting right guard and their top three cornerbacks due to injuries.
But that sure didn't faze them.
Cassel completed his first nine passes for 168 yards, including a textbook toss over the shoulder of Jennings that he snagged in stride and cruised untouched for a 57-yard score in the first quarter to cap a four-play, 92-yard drive.
Henery kicked three field goals in the first half, the second one after a touchdown run on fourth-and-1 by Jackson was wiped out by an illegal peel-back block by Foles.