Vikings Sidebar: Reserves step up for Vikings
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings were depleted with injuries on Thursday night, but as coach Leslie Frazier said that merely meant "next man up."
The Vikings had four defensive starters out and three more on the offensive side. They were so banged up they suited up just 42 players, three short of the maximum.
"We had nine guys out," general manager Rick Spielman said.
Still the Vikings rallied for a 34-27 win over the Washington Redskins (3-6). The win improved the Vikings to 2-7 and it was their fifth game decided in the final minute this season.
"It's just something (to deal with)," Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams said. "The next man up has to do it."
The Vikings relied a lot on reserves, especially in the defensive secondary. Safeties Harrison Smith and Jamarca Sanford were out along with cornerback Chris Cook.
"It's tough dealing with injuries," defensive back Marcus Sherels of Rochester said. "But everybody has to step up. That's why we study film and have to be prepared to step up and play."
Sherels again saw extended action as a slot cornerback. He had one tackle on defense and another on special teams. That came a week after he made eight tackles.
The Vikings defense struggled in the first half, allowing 24 points, before giving up just a field goal in the second half.
"We just need to make the plays and get off the field," Williams said.
Williams, an 11-year veteran, also saw more action as the Vikings had just six defensive linemen suit up for the game. Defensive tackles Letroy Guion and Fred Evans were both sidelined.
"We didn't want to lose," Williams said. "We've been playing hard all year. We just capitalized tonight."
The offense was without starting offensive lineman Phil Loadholt and Charlie Johnson and tight end Kyle Rudolph. Backup fullback Matt Asiata was also out.
Backup quarterback Matt Cassel also had to play the last minute of the third quarter and all of the fourth when Christian Ponder dislocated his left (non-throwing) shoulder.
"I knew that I was the backup and I always prepare, so I was happy that I was able to come in and contribute," Cassel said.
The Vikings trailed by 10 points in the third quarter before scoring the game's final 20 points.
"Great effort by our team in the second half to comeback, fight through adversity and get a win tonight," Cassel said.
Many of the reserves played solid. Tight end John Carlson caught seven passes for 98 yards and a touchdown. Joe Berger and J'Marcus Webb filled in on the offensive line and the unit allowed just one sack.
Williams, a starter, had 2.5 of the four sacks recorded by the Vikings defense.
"It took forever to get a win, but we needed one," Williams said.