This wasn’t a game for the ages, although it did have some twists and turns in the storyline leading up to the final minute of play (when the Dolphins legitimately got do do the Safety Dance). Teddy Bridgewater was unable to secure the victory in front of about 100 family and friends in the stadium, although it was a close game from start to finish. Bridgewater ended up with 19 of 25 for 259 yards, two touchdowns and an interception (but should have been credited with a third touchdown). Although the penalties didn’t make the difference in the game, it was disturbing to see two Vikings defenders lose their cool (and cost the team 15 yards each) after the play was over. Sharif Floyd and Gerald Hodges were both flagged for unsportsmanlike behaviour (and will undoubtedly hear from coach Mike Zimmer about their lack of discipline).
Usually I get some comments about Teddy Bridgewater's arm strength on tough throws by this time on Sunday. Wonder where they went?
— Arif Hasan (@ArifHasanNFL) December 22, 2014
— Vikings Memes (@SkolMemes) December 22, 2014
Teddy Bridgewater's stats are deceiving: he's had 3 INTs that RBs popped STRAIGHT UP. And, a Hail Mary INT. And, 2 TDs taken away in 3 wks.
— Cory Hepola (@CoryHepola) December 21, 2014
OK, so I've been dancing around the 'can Teddy be legit' Q all season, but that game was a firm statement that he can.
— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) December 22, 2014
1500ESPN‘s Andrew Kramer sums up the post-game comments:
“I thought he played well,” coach Mike Zimmer said postgame, via Vikings.com. “One interception was bad luck. Rest of the time, thought he did a good job scrambling the pocket. He made some great throws, played with composure and continued to do all those things.”
Bridgewater helped validate the 550-word opening statement from offensive coordinator Norv Turner on Thursday, when the grizzled veteran coach defended his rookie’s progress by calling him ‘incredible.’
While Bridgewater had grown comfortable hitting receivers in the middle of the field, he showed off his arm on Sunday with touch passes, including a 21-yard touchdown to Greg Jennings and a 22-yard completion to Chase Ford that was millimeters away from being another touchdown. He also converted a 3rd-and-13 attempt with a deep throw to Jennings for 24 yards.
In a season where injuries and legal troubles caused a flood of attrition, the Vikings’ second overall pick in May’s NFL Draft has been their floatation device.
“Played pretty good, for the most part,” Bridgewater said. “We have to play a full game. On offense, we did a great job. High intensity.”
After dropping back Bridgewater nearly 50 times in Detroit, Turner came into Miami with a focus on creating a ground game. Matt Asiata took seven carries on the opening drive, picking up gains of 7, 8 and 10 yards in the first quarter as the Vikings cruised to a 14-0 lead.
Akin to the loss in Detroit, that early lead evaporated; but this time it wasn’t on Bridgewater, who threw two costly picks to the Lions. The Vikings’ defense allowed four touchdowns on four Miami drives in the second half, squashing the 10-point lead at intermission.
And the Daily Norseman‘s Ted Glover on the third touchdown that should have been awarded to Teddy Bridgewater and Chase Ford:
Sell: Referees calling a penalty on every play in this game. I mean, holy crap was that one of the most horribly officiated games I’ve ever witnessed. Mystery defensive holding on Chad Greenway that extended a drive, mystery defensive holding on Xavier Rhodes that extended a drive, the BS PI call on Rhodes at the end of the game when he was looking at the ball and making a play on said ball, the list goes on. Did they cost the Vikings the game? 99% of the time, I think the calls even themselves out over the course of a game, but there’s a nagging burning in my gut over this game. Not necessarily on the penalties, which were bad, but on the Chase Ford touchdown that wasn’t right before halftime.
I mean, he had possession, his foot was in bounds, he dragged his toe in bounds, and he was inside the pylon before he went out. If that isn’t a touchdown, then honestly, I don’t know what a TD is in the NFL anymore. And if that was bad enough, when officials reviewed the Mike Wallace TD that occurred in a similar fashion later in the game, Wallace’s foot was no more out of bounds than Ford’s was, yet his TD call stood. It was one of the more horridly officiated games the Vikings have been involved in that I can remember. Since last week. Or the week before.
Update: Jim Souhan points the finger of blame for yesterday’s defensive collapse.
If you were playing Lifelong Vikings Fan Bingo on Sunday, you were able to cross off “punt blocked out of end zone to lose game” and “onside kick from 20-yard line,” winning you an autographed copy of Gary Anderson’s just-in-time-for-the-holidays coffee-table book titled I Only Missed Once.
Say this for the Vikings: They have evolved. A few weeks ago they were hoping their defense could give their rookie quarterback a chance to win. Sunday, they asked Bridgewater to overcome the team’s most disappointing defensive performance of the season.
A week after frustrating the Lions, the Vikings defense made the Dolphins look like they were still employing players named Griese and Csonka.
The Vikings made so many mistakes, missed so many tackles, it was enough to make you wonder whether some of their young defenders found their way to South Beach on Saturday night — and whether some of them should have stayed there on Sunday.
“Poor performance by us,” Zimmer said. “I saw us do things we haven’t done in a long time.”
Zimmer gets gloriously furious when his team, and in particular his defense, fails to display a grasp of fundamentals.
Some days, he seems to change colors right in front of you, from pale white to crimson. Sunday, Zimmer looked so angry you wondered if he was going to change states, from solid to liquid to steam.
“We were undisciplined,” he said, apparently auditioning for an endorsement deal with Maalox. “We didn’t even line up half — or some — of the time.”
Zimmer has earned praise often this season. Sunday, he was the only logical person to blame.
After a terse-but-polite news conference, someone asked Zimmer if he had offered a similar message to his players. “It was stronger,” he said.