Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6 other subscribers

MN Vikings Tweets

Bleacher Report – Vikings

Zulgad: After brutal performance, Bridgewater rebounds with strong effort

By Judd Zulgad

Teddy Bridgewater’s brutal performance in the Vikings’ loss to Seattle last Sunday caused widespread panic that the second-year quarterback already was a flop and was proving to be the next Christian Ponder.

Four days later, Bridgewater took advantage of the opportunity to calm the masses as he put together the most impressive start of his two-year career.

Bridgewater completed 25 of 36 passes for a career-high 335 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions in a 23-20 loss on Thursday at Arizona. The Cardinals had the NFL’s fourth-ranked defense entering the evening.

Playing without three key defensive starters, the Vikings were double-digit underdogs but rallied from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to tie the score when Bridgewater connected on a 7-yard touchdown pass with wide receiver Mike Wallace. That capped an 11 play, 88-yard drive with 4 minutes, 55 seconds remaining.

Arizona won the game on Chandler Catanzaro’s 47-yard field goal with 1:23 left in the fourth quarter.

“There are no moral victories in this game,” said Bridgewater, who completed passes to 11 different receivers, including a game-high six to tight end Kyle Rudolph. “We have to learn from today.”

Bridgewater had a chance to make this a defining game for himself when the Vikings got the ball back at their own 20-yard line with 1:23 left in the final quarter. He completed his first four passes for 46 yards, including a 22-yarder to Jarius Wright, before the drive stalled at the Cardinals’ 31-yard line.

Despite the fact the Vikings were in field-goal range and had no timeouts left, Bridgewater was allowed to attempt one more pass on third-and-10 with 13 seconds remaining. Left tackle Matt Kalil, who has had a nice rebound season after a poor 2014, was beaten by veteran defensive end Dwight Freeney.

Freeney stripped Bridgewater of the ball and Calais Campbell recovered to end the Vikings’ hopes of pulling the upset.

“The play call was designed to get out of bounds,” Bridgewater said. “I was just getting ready to throw the ball out of bounds, so we’d live to see another down. It was going to be fourth down and we’d give Blair (Walsh) a chance (to kick a tying field goal) but it didn’t go that way.

“I had a clear understanding of the situation. We didn’t have any timeouts left and couldn’t afford to get tackled in bounds. I got ready to throw the ball out of bounds and the guy hit me from behind.”

That ended a game in which mistakes proved to be the Vikings’ undoing.

The first came with the Vikings trailing 10-7 in the second quarter. Minnesota had moved from its own 11-yard line into Arizona territory, when Wright caught a Bridgewater pass and took it to the Cardinals’ 15 before losing the ball on a strip by Deone Bucannon.

Then, with the scored tied at 10, the Vikings took the opening drive of the third quarter to the Arizona 35 before Adrian Peterson fumbled the ball on what was supposed to be a reverse to Mike Wallace. The play call was a curious one by offensive coordinator Norv Turner.

The Cardinals took the lead on the ensuing possession.

Bridgewater failed to lead his team to points on the final drive, but the Vikings still had to be pleased with how he rebounded after going 17 of 28 for only 118 yards with an interception in the 38-7 loss to the Seahawks at TCF Bank Stadium.

On Thursday, Bridgewater averaged a season-high 9.3 yards per throw and had his second 300-yard passing effort of the season. The first came in the Vikings’ come-from-behind 28-19 victory at Detroit on Oct. 25, when Bridgewater threw for 316 yards.

“I thought he played better tonight,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “He threw the ball well, did some good things in the pocket and I thought the offensive line protected for the most part pretty good.”

Zimmer said the offensive staff had talked to Bridgewater about some “mechanical” issues with his passing after the Seattle loss. “I think (that) looked a lot better during the week in practice,” Zimmer said. “It’s hard for me to see technique during the game.”

The end of Thursday’s game was reminiscent of the Vikings’ 23-20 loss on Oct. 4 at Denver, when Bridgewater was stripped of the ball in a similar situation to end the game. Bridgewater had a solid effort in that loss, throwing for 269 yards and a touchdown, and the Vikings’ proceeded to win their next five games.

The Vikings now will get a 10-day break before they play host to the Chicago Bears on Dec. 20. With three games left in the season, the Vikings (8-5) find themselves still in playoff position and a half-game behind Green Bay (8-4) in the NFC North. The Vikings and Packers will meet in the regular-season finale on Jan. 3 at Lambeau Field.

Given the chance to talk about the progress he made Thursday, Bridgewater instead answered the question by discussing the offense as a whole.

“I think we took a big step as a unit,” he said. “We showed we are capable of doing some great things … and a tough team to stop. We shot ourselves in the foot with the three turnovers but, for the most part, guys did a great job of executing the game plan.”

Obviously, they didn’t do a good enough job, but Bridgewater did manage to calm those who four days ago thought the sky might be falling when it came to the Vikings’ starting quarterback.

The post Zulgad: After brutal performance, Bridgewater rebounds with strong effort appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>