The Minnesota Vikings’ 34-27 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday was a relief to fans who were sick of seeing the team turn the ball over and blow second-half leads. Matt Cassel’s play in relief of Christian Ponder was just what Minnesota needed.
There’s only one problem, Vikings fans: this team still isn’t very good.
I don’t want to be the one to complain after a team gets their first win of the season, but the Vikings’ pass defense was as porous as its been all season, and can we really expect Cassel to play at that level for the rest of the season? It was great to see Jared Allen and the defensive line play a great game against the Steelers, but that was against one of the worst offensive lines in the league.
The Vikings had five sacks against Pittsburgh after only having four the previous three games against better competition. If the Vikings want to extend their winning streak, the defensive line must increase their production when the quality of competition improves.
Cassel’s first game as starting quarterback gave fans nothing to moan about. He was the perfect “game-manager” that Vikings fans have been clamoring for as he committed no turnovers and was efficient in the passing game. I was happy with Cassel’s performance and I hope he continues to start the rest of the season, but I’m not expecting him to play such a clean game every week.
This is a player who’s struggled with turnovers in his career, and I don’t expect him to change his ways at this point.
I hope that the Vikings can prove me wrong as the season progresses. Maybe the secondary gets healthier and plays at a higher level. Maybe Cassel returns to his 2010 Pro Bowl form and leads the Vikings to success. The beauty of sports is that you never know what’s going to happen next, but don’t declare Cassel the savior and the Vikings as contenders just yet.