October 10, 2017

Vikings hang on to beat Bears 20-17

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:11

Perhaps fortunately for my blood pressure, the telecast of this game was pre-empted in my area by an NHL game between Toronto and the Chicago Blackhawks, which went into overtime, so I didn’t see more than the last few minutes of the first half. Vikings starting quarterback Sam Bradford had been ineffective through most of that time, and Vikings Twitter was ablaze with demands to sit Bradford and get Case Keenum out on the field. Despite having taken most of the first-team snaps in practice last week, Bradford was clearly not healthy enough to play, and it’s disturbing that the team allowed him to make the start. By the time he left the field, he’d thrown 11 times with only five receptions for 36 yards, and he’d been sacked four times, including one for a safety.

1500ESPN‘s Judd Zulgad wonders why it took coach Zimmer so long to pull Bradford:

The surprise became that Zimmer left Bradford in for nearly the entire first half at Soldier Field, when it had quickly become clear that he had no business playing in this game.

When Bradford missed on his first two pass attempts to Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen on the Vikings’ opening drive, it seemed as if something might not be right. But it was only two passes and perhaps Bradford was rusty after missing three games with a knee injury that has been reported to be a bone bruise.

On the Vikings’ second possession, Bradford threw a third-down pass to Diggs that sailed high. It looked as if he was far from comfortable landing on his front (left) leg when trying to complete the throw.

And then things got worse.

Bradford finally completed a short pass to Thielen on first down from the Vikings’ 10-yard line late in the opening quarter, but the wide receiver was thrown for a 5-yard loss. Bradford then threw an incompletion toward Thielen before the QB was sacked in the end zone for a safety on third-and-15 from his own 5.

Bradford looked lost on the play. An ESPN replay showed he held the ball for an unforgivable 5.26 seconds before being thrown to the turf by the Bears’ Leonard Floyd and giving Chicago 2 points.

It was at that point that common sense should have caused Zimmer to put Keenum in the game. Bradford looked as if he could barely move and was 1-for-5 for minus-5 yards passing at that point.

Of course, there are two teams in every game (plus a third in some games when the officials get too visible), and Chicago wasn’t doing well under their new rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky:

In the first half, the Bears’ drives went like this: Punt, punt, punt, punt, fumble, punt.

The Bears made a surprising decision starting Mitch Trubisky for the first time in his career against an impressive defense. The Vikings did exactly what you’d expect against a rookie, forcing him into a huge mistake.

With 2:32 remaining in the game, Trubisky rolled out and threw toward his tight end. Pro Bowl safety Harrison Smith jumped in front of tight end Zach Miller to intercept the ball and set up his team for a game-winning field goal.

All said and done, the Vikings’ D allowed Trubisky just 125 yards on 12-for-25 passing. His only highlight was a wacky touchdown in which Andrew Sendejo tipped the ball up in the air and Miller came down with it in the end zone.

While Jordan Howard had a decent night running the ball with 19 carries for 76 yards, Chicago’s secret offensive weapon Tarik Cohen was held completely held in check by the Vikings. He had only one catch for minus-3 yards and rushed six times for 13 yards.

The stars were stars. Anthony Barr, Danielle Hunter and Smith picked up tackles for loss and Xavier Rhodes wasn’t targeted a single time.

At the Daily Norseman, Ted Glover makes the buy and sell recommendations in his weekly Stock Market Report:

Buy: Playing Sam Bradford if he was ready. This is going to be the most Monday Morning QB’d decision, quite possibly in Mike Zimmer’s tenure as the Vikings coach. And I imagine a lot of people are going to excoriate him for playing Bradford, but I won’t. If Bradford can go at about 75-80%, he’s the best option on the roster. If he says he’s ready, and the training staff and team doctors give him the go ahead, you play him. Period. Full stop.

Sell: Sam Bradford was ready. But Sam wasn’t 75-80%. Oh sure, maybe he was in practice, and maybe during warmups, but under game conditions he was, at best, 50%. And that was obvious after about two, maybe three drives, tops. The first drive Bradford went 0-3, but you could argue that he was rusty. But after the third drive, when Bradford was sacked for a safety, there was something off. That sack wasn’t on the offensive line; Bradford had over five seconds to throw the ball and didn’t pull the trigger. The only issue at that point was keeping him in as long as the Vikings did.

Buy: Duck, Duck, Gray Duck celebration. I love that the NFL has relaxed the touchdown celebrations this year, because there are some creative ones. I saw the Philadelphia Eagles do a mock baseball home run, which was really funny and well done. But this Duck, Duck, Gray Duck celebration might be the best one yet, although Stefon Diggs has obviously never played the game before:

Sell: Calling it the ‘Duck, Duck Goose’ celebration. Listen up, you ‘Duck, Duck, Goose’ Philistines. Look at the tweet above, it’s from the team’s official Twitter account. That’s because in Minnesota, It’s Duck, Duck, Gray (with a damn a, not e) Duck. We don’t care that you might think that just because in every other state of the union it’s called ‘Duck, Duck, Goose’, so that’s what the game and celebration must be called. It’s not, and it must suck being from one of 49 wrong states. I’m sorry you’re from a part of the country that doesn’t know any better, but it’s ‘Duck, Duck, Gray Duck’. Also, it’s pop, not soda. So go play your stupid, imitation Duck Duck Goose while drinking a stupid, imitation soda in some stupid, godforsaken place that doesn’t know any better, like the 3rd level of Hell, also referred to as Wisconsin. Or maybe Detroit, or possibly Illinois. In Minnesota, we’ll play Duck, Duck, Gray Duck while sipping on a delicious, cold pop, smug in our correctness.

Buy: Playing Case Keenum against Green Bay. Looking at Bradford trying to struggle against a terrible Bears defense, barring his knee miraculously healing on a short week, the Vikings best shot at beating Green Bay lays with Case Keenum. This is a huge game, and still winnable with Keenum, but with a hobbled Bradford the Vikings will get run out of the stadium.

Sell: Playing Case Keenum after Green Bay. So here’s the deal with the Vikings QB position. By all accounts, Teddy Bridgewater gets activated off the PUP after week 6, after the Packers game. Bradford looks like he’s a lot farther away from playing now than he was even against the Steelers, and that just stinks for him. I thought he was going to light it up this year after week one, but now he could be sidelined another 3-4 games, easy. That means, kids, there’s a distinct possibility we see Teddy Bridgewater the week after the Packers game, against the Ravens. Now that said, just because he’s activated doesn’t mean he’ll play. After he’s activated and starts practicing, they have 21 days before they either have to put him on the 53 man roster or waive him.

LOL waiving him, but it’s going to be interesting to see how quickly they play Bridgewater, and what they do with either Keenum or Kyle Sloter. With Bradford nursing a knee injury and Bridgewater just coming back from one, cutting Keenum makes little sense, but if waiving Sloter runs the risk of another team picking him up. I think Teddy plays by the Cleveland game, at the latest. Wouldn’t surprise me at all if he sees action in the Ravens game.

Buy: Jerick McKinnon returning kicks. McKinnon had a good night returning kicks, too. He didn’t make any bad judgment calls in when to take the ball out, or when to take a knee for a touchback. He scared me once when he slipped on the turf in the end zone fielding a kick, and it looked like he might run it out. But he smartly took a knee, and the Vikes weren’t put in a hole early.

Sell: The stupid fake punt. I’ve beaten this to death but man, the Vikings need to expect the weird in Chicago, because it always happens. The Bears scored two touchdowns against the Vikings. One was a fake punt, and the other was a tipped pass that should have been an interception by Andrew Sendejo. When you throw in what was a legitimately great two point conversion, the Vikings and Bears were tied 17-17 midway through the fourth quarter. It amazes me how this team struggles in that venue.

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