Many want to blame Matt Kalil, and some of them were on him. Some were on other offensive linemen. Some were on a running back missing a block or knocking an offensive lineman off his path to protect.
In short, it was an all-around mess, but there were some common denominators. In the first half, all four sacks were on third down and out of the shotgun, but by the second half they came in shotgun and under center, and one first, second and fourth down.
Many of the sacks didn’t give Bridgewater much of a chance, but some of them were his fault for holding onto the ball too long or looking to escape a clean pocket. Here is the blow-by-blow mess that has the Vikings giving up the second-most sacks (22) in the league.
Teddy Bridgewater is in the shotgun and takes a three-step drop from there. He hops forward three times before trying to take off, but runs right into Ndamukong Suh, who was blocked well by John Sullivan. Bridgewater had 3.5 second from snap to initial contact on the sack.
Once again, Bridgewater is the shotgun, but this time he has less than three seconds from snap to sack as Ezekiah Anshah sheds the hands of Kalil, dips his shoulder and swipes at the ball as Bridgewater pump fakes. Bridgewater and Kalil both go for the loose ball, but it squirts out of their grasp and Phil Loadholt alertly tracks and dives on the ball.
Five minutes after the second sack, Bridgewater has even less time. He is in the shotgun, but can’t even reach the two-second mark before DeAndre Levy splits RB Jerick McKinnon and right tackle Phil Loadholt. It appeared Loadholt was expecting more help from McKinnon, who released to the inside to pick up a stunting Jason Jones. Bridgewater had no shot of finding a receiver and releasing the ball in less than two seconds.
Once again, it was third down. Once again, Bridgewater was in the shotgun. And, once again, he had less than three seconds from snap to sack. This time is was about 2.85 seconds before Jones had set up Loadholt to the outside and beat him underneath. Bridgewater appeared ready to step up, but Suh and Sullivan were passing in front of him and he had nowhere to go.
This was the first and only sack of the game that Bridgewater wasn’t in the shotgun. He had first contact about 2.75 seconds after the snap. Officially, the sack is split by Caraun Reid and James Ihedigbo, but it was Reid’s interior pressure after beating Charlie Johnson that didn’t allow Bridgewater to step up and avoid Ihedigbo off the edge. McKinnon and Johnson will have to share the blame on that one.
Nick Fairley created the initial pressure by beating Charlie Johnson to the edge. That was at 3 seconds, but Bridgewater still had a chance to get rid of the ball on a checkdown to an open Matt Asiata. Instead, Bridgewater continued to keep his eyes downfield and eventually George Johnson beat Kalil for the sack at 3.8 seconds. That one probably falls mostly on Bridgewater, who told reporters on Tuesday that he talked to his offensive linemen and told them he would do a better job of getting rid of the ball sooner.
Jones created the initial pressure when his stunt to the outside went unblocked. Matt Asiata was trying to fight through traffic to get out into a route and didn’t allow Johnson to follow Jones to the outside. Bridgewater cleverly ducked out of that initial contact, but a short time later Ansah broke free from Kalil and clean up what Jones started. Jones got to Bridgewater in just under 3 seconds, and Ansah cleaned it up in just under 4 seconds.
It’s hard to blame Bridgewater for getting antsy in the pocket after seven sacks, and that’s what appeared to happen on his eighth. He had a good pocket, but as he tried to escape it moving forward, Suh, while being blocked by Vladimir Ducasse, reached out and grabbed Bridgewater’s jersey and held on to bring him down for the eighth time, with initial contact at 3 seconds.
For those scoring at home, Kalil was certainly part of the problem, but far from the only problem. Each of the offensive linemen were involved in at least one sack, as were McKinnon and Asiata, and Bridgewater could accept responsibility for two or three, as well. And, of course, by the final four minutes of the fourth quarter, when three of the eight sacks occurred, the Lions had even less regard for the Vikings’ ability to run the ball and could simply focus on getting to Bridgewater.