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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Notebook: To simplify the goal: convert on 3rd downs, score more touchdowns

By Derek Wetmore

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. – Adrian Peterson said after Sunday’s win that he’s seen a different look in Teddy Bridgewater’s eyes lately.

More tangibly, the Vikings have seen better results on the field.

That includes a very efficient day at the office in a win against the Bears, in which Bridgewater completed 17 of his 20 pass attempts for four touchdowns, no interceptions, and he added a rushing touchdown to boot. Not a bad day’s work.

Particularly impressive to head coach Mike Zimmer is that Bridgewater is connecting on third down. The Vikings offense has had trouble all season long, and has been one of the least prolific units in the league. Staying on the field and extending drives can help that, as Minnesota showed in Sunday’s convincing win.

“Teddy [Bridgewater] in his last two weeks has completed 16 out of 18 on third downs, not all for conversions, but those completions add up,” Zimmer said, after calling Sunday’s a ‘team win.’

Bridgewater and the Vikings faced third down 12 different times Sunday (among non-penalized plays). Bridgewater passed for a first down six times, including three touchdowns, and the Vikings ran for two more first downs. (Bridgewater was sacked once on third down and the team had three passing plays called that didn’t result in a first down.)

“We moved the ball well, we converted on third downs and we scored touchdowns,” Zimmer said.

Sounds like a reasonable formula.

Set your sights high

At this point, it would take an unlikely string of events to keep the Vikings out of the playoffs. But Zimmer isn’t the kind of guy to rest easy.

“I don’t know, I don’t feel too good about it yet,” Zimmer said, when asked how it felt to be so close to clinching his first playoff berth as a head coach.

“Our goal really isn’t to get into the playoffs. Our goal is to win the division first,” Zimmer said.

And that would mean winning the final game of the season, a road game at Lambeau Field against the Packers.

Optimistic health outlook

The Vikings played two representative defensive games without a few defensive stars, Harrison Smith, Linval Joseph and Anthony Barr.

Even after 10 days off following a loss to the Cardinals, the trio of starters was unable to return to action for the game against the Bears. That could change this week, although that’s no sure thing, either.

Zimmer left open the chance that Smith (knee/hamstring), Barr (groin) and Joseph (foot) could return for Sunday’s game against the Giants.

“I think there’s a good possibility,” Zimmer said. “I mean, they’re getting really close. So we’ll see.”

Secret weapon

Coaches in the NFL are known to be relatively tight-lipped when it comes to things like in-game strategy and injuries.

Why let the opponent know ahead of time something that might give away a competitive advantage.

This time, Zimmer may have let the cat out of the bag.

“My mom’s gotta keep coming back,” Zimmer said during Sunday’s postgame press conference, “because she’s undefeated when we’re here.”

And with the Vikings needing just two more wins this season to secure the goal of winning the NFC North, it doesn’t sound like Zimmer’s taking any chances in the final home game of the regular season for the Vikings.

“She will be there,” Zimmer said of Sunday’s date with the Giants. “She reminds every time too, she’s the good luck. I said, ‘It has nothing to do with blocking and tackling, does it?’

“She doesn’t like that.”

The post Notebook: To simplify the goal: convert on 3rd downs, score more touchdowns appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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