The Minnesota Vikings ended their 33-year tenure at the Metrodome Sunday afternoon with a win over division rival Detroit. The Vikes locked up the #8 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, avoided a franchise record in points allowed, and left the field with a 5-10-1 record for the season. Many questions remain for next year’s team, from coaching to personnel, but Sunday the Vikes celebrated a win and said goodbye to the dome.

5 Things I Loved

1. Backups and Scrubs

Third-string running back Matt Asiata rushed for 115 yards. Third-string tight end Chase Ford hauled in 5 catchs for 43 yards. My compliments are limited to the off

If it weren't for the numbers stitched to their jerseys, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between Ford and Carlson and Rudolph.

If it weren’t for the numbers stitched to their jerseys, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between Ford and Carlson and Rudolph.

2. Cordarrelle Patterson

This guy is on the list every week, and for good reason. He only got better as the season wore on, and I believe that next year will truly be his breakout year. Yesterday he ran for his 3rd rushing TD of season, a 50-yard snake through a solid Lions defense, which made it the longest rushing play by a Vikings wide receiver in team history. Patterson has had 5 straight games with a TD, tying Randy Moss’ rookie record. The kid is more than just a return man. He has the potential to be better than Randy Moss, whose tragic downfall was his own pride.

Patterson has an extra set of rocket boosters when he needs them.

Patterson has an extra set of rocket boosters when he needs them.

3. Jared Allen

The guy  joined the red zone offense on 2nd and goal in the second quarter and was wide open for a touchdown catch. He recorded 2 sacks on Sunday for 11.5 on the season, the seventh straight season Allen has had 10+ sacks. He is getting older, but I would hate to see him leave the team next season, as he is an unrestricted free agent.

Putting Allen in at QB looks no different to the 3 other guys who played it this season...

Putting Allen in at QB looks no different to the 3 other guys who played it this season…

4. Defense Steps Up For Once and Plays a Complete Game

The Vikings held the Lions to zero points in the first half, which isn’t exactly special. The Vikes have had several games where they limited the opposing team to very few points. It was the second half where things usually fell apart. Granted, all of Detroit’s points came in the second half, but it was only 13 point. The key to the game was when the Vikings stopped the Lions on 3rd and 12 with 5:00 left in game. All season that would have been a first down for the opposing team, putting our unpredictable offense in a bind. If the defense played like this all season, the Vikings would no doubt be a playoff team. Perhaps it’s due to the return of safety Harrison Smith.

I'd be shocked with glee, too, if I saw how many points my defense allowed.

I’d be shocked with glee, too, if I saw how many points my defense allowed.

5. Marcus Sherels and the Special Teams in General

This guy stunk in the secondary, but he was second in the NFL for average return yards (15.2). On Sunday, he averaged 25 yards a return, and returned one punt for 50 yards. Keep this guy in at punt returns, and keep Mike Priefer in at special teams coach. We’ve talked about Patterson above, but he led the league in kickoff returns average, yards, and return touchdowns. Blair Walsh, although he was injured this season, is still a stellar kicker.

Is punter Sam Martin trying to SLIDE TACKLE Marcus Sherels?

Is punter Sam Martin trying to SLIDE TACKLE Marcus Sherels?

5 Things I Hated

1. 3rd Down Conversion Rate

This was better than last week (zero third down conversions), but still not good. The Vikings were 3 for 11 in third down conversions. Granted, there were several injuries on offense, but the Vikes were 19th this season in third down conversions. Not good. A new quarterback, the return of Kyle Rudolph and a developing Patterson should help.

2. Red Zone Efficiency

Vikes were 1 for 3 in red zone attempts today. One of those missed attempts ended in—suprise!—a turnover. The Vikings were also 19th in red zone efficiency this year, scoring a touchdown only 52% of the time they made the trip within the 20 yard line.

3. Turnovers

The Vikes had two turnovers AGAIN this game, an interception and a fumble. The Vikings were 4th in the league in giveaways this season, and it killed them. Most of those turnovers came at the quarterback position. We need a quarterback who is smart. When the Vikes drafted Ponder, everyone talked about how smart he was, even if his arm was weak and mobility limited. Turns out, his arm WAS weak, his mobility wasn’t that bad, and I don’t know how “smart” he was at reading game film or knowing the playbook, but when it came to on-the-field smarts, Ponder flunked. We need a QB who is smart on the field: someone who can think on his feet and make a good decision, even if that decision is to throw the ball away.

Matt Asiata, rumbling here, fumbled later in one of the Vikes two turnovers.

Matt Asiata, rumbling here, fumbled later in one of the Vikes two turnovers.

4. Anemic Offense

People talk about how godawful the defense was in giving up 30 points per game, the worst in the league this year. However, the offense wasn’t a slouch, it was just mediocre, putting up 24.4 points per game, about the middle of the league. Yesterday, however, the Vikes could get very little going. Part of it was due to the fact that he Lions defense is pretty good, especially their defensive line, part of it was due to key injuries on offense (Peterson, Rudolph), and part of it was due to our mediocre quarterback situation.

Cassel and the offense couldn't get much going, but they didn't need to.

Cassel and the offense couldn’t get much going, but they didn’t need to.

5. Shaun Prater and of course the rest of the secondary.

I’ve hated on the secondary enough, especially in my last post, so today I just want to release my venom into Shaun Prater. Specifically, when he lined up in the NEUTRAL ZONE as the Lions were going to kick a 52-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, which THEY MISSED. But Prater, who was recently brought onto the team because of injuries to the secondary, and his HELMET had to line up where he didn’t belong. This is special teams and FOOTBALL 101. The Lions got a first down and stormed into the red zone. Fortunately the drive ended in a field goal, but it could have been the difference in the game.

Shaun, you're tackling a grown man, not a jersey.

Shaun, you’re tackling a grown man, not a jersey.