For the fourth week in a row, the Minnesota Vikings’ game came down to one final drive. This time in Chicago, it was the fourth quarter with 2:03 left to play in the game and the Vikings were on their own 34-yard line. With Teddy Bridgewater on the field, there had to be a sense of hope for the Vikings, as they have seen Bridgewater succeed in situations similar to this multiple times this season.
The first play of the drive was a sack, and the game almost seemed to be over because of it. It brought the game to the 2-minute warning and left the Vikings looking at second-and-15 with 71 yards to drive and no timeouts.
After the sack, however, Bridgewater looked the way he has during two-minute situations throughout the year. First he connected with Charles Johnson for a 21-yard completion and a first down. Then he hit Jerick McKinnon out of the backfield for a 14-yard gain and another first down. Bridgewater then completed another pass to Johnson for 7 yards.
But with a clock malfunction that didn’t allow the Vikings to keep track of the time left in the game, Bridgewater decided to try for the end zone with about 50 seconds left . His 29-yard attempt for a touchdown to Johnson was intercepted by safety Ryan Mundy.
“We called a play that we wanted to take a shot down the field,” Bridgewater said. “I threw it up there for our guy to have a chance, and Charles, he made a great effort of trying to come down with the catch and trying to distract the defender, but we didn’t get the results that we wanted.”
A more experienced quarterback might have gone about that situation a little differently. First, Bridgewater could have thrown the ball a little sooner, when he first saw that Johnson had his man beat because it wouldn’t have allowed the safety to come over and make a play.
“I think (Bridgewater) thought he had a shot down the field,” head coach Mike Zimmer said. “I believe the safety was inside, and he took a little too long to throw it, so (the Bears) came back and made a play.”
Another possibility would have been to notice the safety was slowly drifting over towards Johnson, so Bridgewater could have hit tight end Chase Ford up the middle of the field, or hit either Adam Thielen or McKinnon on underneath routes and then rushed to the line to call another play or spike the ball.
“That’s one of those deals where I anticipate him going inside with Chase, or if he stayed outside I could have thrown the ball inside to Chase, but the linebacker carried Chase up the seam,” Bridgewater said. “I think I could have done a better job of understanding the situation. I could have got the ball down to Adam Thielen – he was running across the field on a drag route – or I could have thrown the ball to Jerick. Give him a chance and probably could have lined back up the next play, spiked the ball, and had another chance to take a shot at the end zone.”
In the end, the Vikings will just have to chalk this one up as a learning experience for the young quarterback. It is not something the team, or the rookie, will want to have happen again, but Bridgewater seems to understand what he did wrong.
As the Vikings fall to 4-6 on the season, their playoff hopes likely have all but disappeared. It will be a tough pill for the team to swallow, but it will now test their young character moving forward in seeing how they respond.
Zimmer, Bridgewater recount final mistake
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