Teddy Bridgewater’s second NFL start wasn’t anywhere close to as good as his first, and this time he was facing the Detroit Lions’ top-ranked defense.
Bridgewater completed 23 of 37 passes for 188 yards, but he was sacked eight times, threw three interceptions and finished with a paltry 41.3 passer rating in a 17-3 loss to the Detroit Lions.
The Minnesota Vikings (2-4) quarterback was harassed by the Lions’ incessant pass rush, with Vikings coach Mike Zimmer adding that “a few” of Bridgewater’s eight sacks were because he was holding onto the ball too long. Zimmer also admitted that receivers weren’t getting enough separation.
After getting blown out by the Green Bay Packers 10 days earlier, the concern then was about the Vikings defense. This time, Zimmer was happier with his defense, which was facing a Lions offense without injured receiver Calvin Johnson or running back Reggie Bush. Other aspects of the game made up for that, however, as Zimmer was frustrated about the protection Bridgewater received and the play of Minnesota’s special teams.
Without Adrian Peterson since Week 1, Cordarrelle Patterson has struggled to make an impact as the offense’s most dangerous remaining weapon, and he managed only two catches for 15 yards and one rush for 2 yards against the No. 1 defense in the league Sunday. Patterson didn’t have a catch until late in the fourth quarter.
“Obviously we didn’t do a good enough job in protection and we did not execute well enough as an offense and we’ll look at the tape and see what happened,” center John Sullivan said.
As a team, the Vikings converted only 3 of 14 third downs and managed only 212 total yards. They averaged a measly 3.4 yards per play. Complemented with Bridgewater’s three interceptions and eight sacks, the results were predictable.
“Yeah, the offense has been struggling the last couple weeks,” Patterson said. “When you’re not putting up points on the board it’s kind of frustrating, but at the end of the day you got to learn to let it go.”
The Vikings fell behind 7-0 after the Lions’ opening drive and 10-0 by halftime, and Bridgewater wasn’t able to do much in the first half to bring Minnesota back.
He was 7-for-13 for 54 yards passing in the first half, took four sacks and threw two interceptions for a 24.7 rating. The Vikings were only 1-for-6 in third-down conversions and Bridgewater got only 22 yards rushing from running back Jerick McKinnon, who was the featured back for the first time in his career.
Patterson was conspicuously absent from the game plan and clearly affected with his hip injury. He was targeted only once, an overthrow, in the first half.
It didn’t take the Lions to move the ball, even without Johnson and Bush. Stafford went to a quick passing game, finding Theo Riddick for a 41-yard play on a screen pass that put them inside the 10-yard line before Riddick beat Gerald Hodges in the middle of the field for a 9-yard touchdown.
The Lions managed two other trips across midfield in the first half, with their new kicker, Matt Prater, missing one field goal attempt from 50 yards but making a 52-yarder at the end of the first half.
The second half wasn’t any better for the Vikings offense. Bridgewater threw another interception and was sacked three more times and got inside the 20-yard line only once, but that was quickly moved back after a false start penalty. Blair Walsh did manage a field goal on that drive for Minnesota’s only points, but it was far too little too late, coming with 4:53 left in the game.
Meanwhile, the Lions missed another field goal in the third quarter, allowing the Vikings to stay in it for a short while before essentially putting it away with a 1-yard Joique Bell dive for a 17-0 lead.
“Obviously that’s a disappointing performance,” Zimmer said. “I expected better today and I thought we practiced well all week. Disappointed we didn’t protect the quarterback, we didn’t block guys, and until we figure out that this game is about blocking and tackling, catching the ball and doing your job, then we’re going to have more results like this.”
Bridgewater, offense struggle in 17-3 loss
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