Notebook: TE Ford bides time, comes alive

Chase Ford has become a big part of the passing offense and scored his first touchdown. Plus, get more than 20 notes that help tell the tale of the Vikings’ 29-26 win.

Of all the offensive players that the Vikings entered the 2014 season expecting big things from, tight end Chase Ford wasn’t one of them. But as the face of the offense has been constantly changing, a lot of players who started the season as a starter in Week 1 at St. Louis aren’t in those same positions now.

Ford has seen his role in Norv Turner’s offense increase throughout the season, which is a far cry from August, when Ford wasn’t even sure he would make the team after missing almost all of training camp. He knew he was on the roster bubble and felt a little helpless until he could get back on the field and prove himself.

“I never gave up faith,” Ford said. “I knew that God had a plan for me. When I was in the weight room, I was going as hard as I could and, when I got the opportunity, I’ve been trying to make the most of it.”

After being called up from the practice squad when Kyle Rudolph got injured in Week 3 of the season, he has seen his role continually increase. Last week against Tampa Bay, he set personal highs for receptions (six) and yards (61). Sunday, he scored his first touchdown in the final minute of the first half to get the Vikings on the scoreboard.

He wasn’t intended to be a touchdown target, but on an improvisational play from Teddy Bridgewater, Ford hit paydirt for the first time in his NFL career.

“Teddy made a great throw, to be honest,” Ford said. “It wasn’t even supposed to go deep. He saw the open hole and threw to it and trusted me enough to know that I would go up there and get it.”

Ford had some chances – both last year and earlier this season – to get the first touchdown on the books, but was thankful that came, even if it took a little longer than he had hoped it would.

“It’s always something you’ve dreamed about – scoring a touchdown in the NFL,” Ford said. “It took awhile for me to get my first one, but now that’s something I can scratch off the list of things I’ve accomplished.”

With Rudolph expected to return as early as the first game after the bye week, Ford’s role in the offense may be reduced significantly. But he’s keeping the faith that he has proved enough to get his number called in key situations, whether Rudolph is back in peak form or not.

“This is going to be a great opportunity for us,” Ford said. “We’re going to bye on a two-game home stand and we have the chance to turn our season around. Getting (Rudolph) back will help give another weapon for Teddy to utilize, but I’m looking forward to keeping on making plays and helping us win.”

GAME DAY NOTES


  • ESPN reported before the game that representatives for RB Adrian Peterson are in talks for a potential plea deal in his child abuse trial.

  • Robert Griffin III did look fairly impressive in his return and it seemed clear that the Redskins offense is much more potent with him than without him. He finished the game completing 18 of 28 passed for 251 yards with one touchdown and one interception and a passer rating of 90.0. More importantly for the Vikings was that he gained just 24 yards on the ground on seven carries.

  • Teddy Bridgewater had a solid performance despite a couple of horribly missed opportunities early on. He finished completing 26 of 42 passes for 268 yards with one touchdown, no interceptions and a passer rating of 88.2.

  • Greg Jennings was the main man in the passing game. He was targeted 10 times and caught six passes for 76 yards.

  • DeSean Jackson showed why he is one of the most dangerous players in the league. He caught just four passes, but one of them was for 58 yards, another went for 45 yards and another was a touchdown.

  • Matt Asiata has shown that if he scores, he’s going to score again. He has nine career touchdowns – three each in three different games, last year vs. Philadelphia and this year against Atlanta and Washington.

  • The Vikings are 18-0 all time in games where a running back has scored three touchdowns in a game.

  • Harrison Smith led the Vikings with 10 tackles – all solo.

  • The Vikings added five more sacks Sunday – one each from Everson Griffin, Brian Robison, Chad Greenway, Anthony Barr and a shared sack by Linval Joseph and Tom Johnson.

  • Both teams did a good job on third down. The Vikings converted 8 of 15 third downs, while the Redskins made good on 6 of 13 third downs.

  • The Vikings tied a team record by getting sacks on three consecutive plays – the first time the Vikings have done that since they did it against Arizona on Dec. 28, 2003. For longtime fans, they will remember that game as the game in which the Vikings lost on the final play of the game and got knocked out of the playoffs by the Cardinals.

  • Bridgewater got his third win as a starter, shockingly setting a Vikings record for a rookie. Fran Tarkenton and Christian Ponder both had 2-8 records as rookie starters 50 years apart – Tarkenton in 1961 and Ponder in 2011.

  • Smith was called for a phantom personal foul late in the game that could have been disastrous for the Vikings. Asked about the play after the game, Smith said he didn’t want to spoil the moment discussing it, but added, “You saw the play. You tell me.”

  • Captain Munnerlyn got an interception in his second straight game Sunday. His pick against the Redskins was huge because it set up the Vikings first touchdown late in the first half.

  • The teams combined to score just 17 points in the first half, but combined to score 38 in the second half.

  • The Redskins dominated the first-quarter stats. They outgained the Vikings 134-30, Griffin completed all six passes he threw for 106 yards and Morris ran for 36 yards on eight carries. The Redskins ran only five more plays than the Vikings, but held the ball for 9:57 of the game’s first 15 minutes.

  • In the final three quarters, the Vikings outgained Washington 322-217.

  • Xavier Rhodes was injured late in the first quarter. He was taken to the locker room to get checked for a concussion. He would return to the game after passing the concussion protocol.

  • Bridgewater had a pair of chances early to throw long touchdowns that he overthrew. On the first play of the game, Jennings went deep with middle linebacker Keenan Robinson in coverage and had a step on him, but Bridgewater threw the ball five yards too far. On the second drive, a blown coverage had Patterson 20 yards behind the defense, but the pass was overthrown on what would have been a sure touchdown even if Patterson would have needed to stop to catch it.

  • The first drive of the game for Griffin was extremely impressive and showed no signs of rustiness after missing seven games. After the Vikings had a three-and-out to start the game, RG3 led Washington on a 13-play drive that ate up almost eight minutes off the game clock. The Redskins got to the Vikings 13-yard line, but a sack by Anthony Barr killed the drive and forced Washington to settle for a field goal.

  • Vikings Hall of Famer Carl Eller went out with the captains to conduct the coin toss.

  • Prior to the game, a Native American protest took place that included thousands of protesters denouncing the Redskins nickname. Minneapolis police officials estimated the crowd at 4,000-5,000 people.

  • The paid attendance at the game was 52,252.


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