Best Game: The Vikings beat NFC East-leading Philadelphia 48-30 on Dec. 15, without injured running back Adrian Peterson. Matt Cassel passed for 382 yards, the most by a Vikings quarterback since Brett Favre in 2010.

Worst Game: Lacking faith in Christian Ponder and Cassel, the Vikings signed Josh Freeman after Tampa Bay cut him and started him two weeks later on the road against the New York Giants. He looked lost, completing just 20 of 53 passes for 190 yards and one interception in a 23-7 defeat.

Best Play: The Vikings lost three fourth-quarter leads during an epic 29-26 loss at Baltimore in a snowstorm, including two in the final 87 seconds. After scoring on a kickoff return, the Ravens led 22-19 with 1:16 left. But rookie Cordarrelle Patterson responded by turning a simple screen pass into a 79-yard catch and run into the end zone with 45 seconds remaining.

Worst Play: Leading 17-14 in the second quarter, Cleveland turned a fake field goal into an 11-yard touchdown pass in a game the Browns wound up winning 31-27 in the final minute to drop the Vikings to 0-3.

Biggest Surprise: Patterson. Being a first-round draft pick brings high expectations, but he exceeded them as a returner, receiver and runner, scoring nine touchdowns and negating the departure of Percy Harvin.

Biggest Disappointment: Ponder. Given every opportunity to prove he could be a capable long-term solution, he went 2-6-1 as a starter. Cassel finished both wins after Ponder was hurt.

What's Next: Finding a head coach. Finding a franchise quarterback. Upgrading the defense, particularly the secondary.