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Updated: December 8th, 2013 5:50pm
Notebook: Vikings allow 22 points in 121 seconds, stay winless on road

Notebook: Vikings allow 22 points in 121 seconds, stay winless on road

by Andrew Krammer
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Minnesota Vikings receiver Cordarrelle Patterson caught the ball five yards behind the line of scrimmage on 3rd-and-10 and followed the blocks laid by third-string running back Matt Asiata and backup lineman Joe Berger as he sprinted past multiple Ravens defenders.

Ravaged by injuries, the Vikings seemingly won - again - off Patterson's 79-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown with less than a minute left in the game. But quarterback Joe Flacco orchestrated a five-play, 80-yard drive, aided by an 18-yard pass interference call on linebacker Chad Greenway, which ended with the game-winning touchdown pass to receiver Marlon Brown with four seconds left.

Four of the Vikings' nine losses this season have come from last-minute touchdown passes as their late-game defense consistently fails to produce the needed stops - whether through untimely penalties, blown coverages or missed tackles.

On Sunday, the unraveling of a 12-7 fourth-quarter lead was due to a little bit of all three as the Ravens scored 22 points in 121 seconds off two goal-line touchdown passes and a 77-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by receiver Jacoby Jones.

"It's been a number of times this year, we've been in position and haven't been able to make that game-closing play," Frazier said in his press conference, via a live feed from the Vikings' website.

A former cornerback and defensive coordinator, the Vikings' defensive struggles have to be particularly bothersome to a defensive mind like Frazier. But even after grabbing their first multi-interception game since the Sept. 22 loss to the Cleveland Browns, the Vikings were unable to hold their opponent out of the endzone when they needed it most.

"That last sequence..." Frazier paused and rubbed his face. "We just came up short."

Flacco completed just three passes on the final drive, but the final one went for nine yards to Brown, who tip-toed along the back of the endzone to score. Four plays prior, safety Andrew Sendejo had his would-be, game-ending interception negated by Greenway's pass interference call.

Running back Adrian Peterson took to Twitter to vent his frustrations about the officiating, but he wasn't the only one upset about the referees. Frazier wasn't pleased by both Greenway's interference call and a 37-yard penalty called on defensive back Robert Blanton, which set in motion the Ravens' first fourth-quarter score. Running back Toby Gerhart also had a fumble call stand after multiple replays appeared to show his knee down before his first-quarter fumble that led to the Ravens' only first-half score.

"There were a lot of things I thought could've been called pass interference throughout that ball game," Frazier said. "For those two to be called, it bewildered me. It's beyond disappointment."

Frazier repeatedly shrugged his shoulders and shook his head when discussing Gerhart's fumble.

"They told me it was too close to be overturned," Frazier said. "Our guys upstairs thought it was clear that [Gerhart's] knees were down."

Blanton's and Greenway's pass interference calls set the Ravens up at the MIN 17 and MIN 27, respectively. However, the Vikings' blown coverage led to Jones' 77-yard return on a pooch punt that the dynamic returner was still able to run up, grab, return and score with 1:16 left in the game.

Now 0-6-1 on the road, the Vikings are the only team in the NFL to have not won away from their home. Their Sept. 29 win in London was classified as a home game.
Cassel brings life to WRs

Minnesota Vikings wide receivers have had their best outings when quarterback Matt Cassel is under center this season. On Sunday, Patterson and receiver Jerome Simpson had career days as both scored touchdowns and combined for 189 receiving yards.

Patterson's 58 yards in the first half were already a career high before he took a fourth-quarter screen pass 79 yards for a touchdown, which became Patterson's longest touchdown catch of his career and the Vikings' longest pass play of the season.

Cassel found Simpson for his first touchdown catch in 26 games since joining the Vikings last season. Cassel hit Simpson on an eight-yard pass in the back of the endzone for the first of the Vikings' three fourth-quarter touchdowns. After taking a 12-7 lead, the ensuing two-point conversion failed as the Vikings were ultimately outscored 22-20 in the fourth quarter.

The Vikings had scored just 62 fourth-quarter points through 12 games before Sunday, but were unable to notch a win despite 20 points in the final period.

Receiver Greg Jennings made a pair of spectacular one-handed grabs, one of which was out of bounds, as he finished with five catches for 53 yards on a team-high 10 targets.

Strong showing

Safety Andrew Sendejo made a strong case to start alongside safety Harrison Smith on Sunday as he caught his first career interception when he broke on a route by tight end Ed Dickson at the end of the third quarter.

Sendejo finished with three pass deflections, tied for the team lead with cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Sendejo also had the would-be, game-winning interception on the Ravens' final drive, but Greenway's pass interference call negated his play.

Smith is eligible to return on Dec. 15 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Frazier wanted to keep it an open competition between safety Jamarca Sanford, the incumbent starter, and Sendejo to start alongside the Pro Bowler.

Late hits

• Cornerback Marcus Sherels recorded his first career interception on a pass deep right for Jones in the middle of the fourth quarter.

• Rookie punter Jeff Locke booted a career-high nine possessions away for the Vikings on Sunday. On one side, that's palatable because the Vikings had only one turnover. However, they lost the time of possession battle 32:12-to-27:48 on Sunday.

• Second-year linebacker Audie Cole made his third straight start in the middle and led all defenders with 13 tackles. Linebacker Erin Henderson, pegged to start at the weak-side spot, had just one tackle on limited snaps.

• Rhodes broke the Vikings' rookie record with his 20th pass breakup on the season on Sunday. He broke Orlando Thomas' record of 19 in 1995. 

Andrew Krammer covers the Minnesota Vikings for He previously covered the Gophers men's basketball team for the Minnesota Daily.
Email Andrew | @andrew_krammer