Wright, Johnson liven up Vikings pass game

Jarius Wright and Charles Johnson both scored touchdowns and eclipsed 100 yards receiving, the latter being a rarity for the Vikings this season.

Coming into Sunday’s game with the New York Jets, the Vikings had just one 100-yard yard receiver and one 300-yard passing game.

By the end of Sunday’s 30-24 overtime thriller, the Vikings doubled their number of 300-yard passing games and tripled the number of 100-yard receivers, as Teddy Bridgewater threw for 309 yards and the tandem of Jarius Wright (four catches for 123 yards) and Charles Johnson (four catches for 103 yards) electrified the crowd at TCF Bank Stadium with long touchdowns .

Johnson’s 56-yard touchdown gave the Vikings a 14-9 lead in the first quarter and a lead they would never relinquish completely and Wright’s 87-yard touchdown in overtime was a dagger in the heart of the Jets to end the game.

What made Wright’s touchdown so epic was that it wasn’t the play called from the sideline. Bridgewater had the chance to opt out of the original call, which wasn’t intended to go to Wright. When he called the audible out of it, Wright became the primary receiver on a bubble screen and picked up three blocks to break free and take off for the winning TD.

“We had an option on that play,” Wright said. “It wasn’t the original call but it was an option depending on what they were going to be showing us. Teddy did a good job of getting me the ball. Kyle (Rudolph), Greg (Jennings) and Sully (John Sullivan) threw three nice blocks to set up that run. Teddy threw a good ball and I just tried to do the rest.”

One thing Wright didn’t do when he broke into the open field was sneak a peek at the scoreboard to see who was in pursuit and how close any defenders were to him. He did that earlier this year and got brought down in the open field, so made sure to get to the end zone the old-fashioned way.

“Not this time,” Wright said. “That’s what got me caught the last time – the Jumbotron trick. I just looked back myself. I saw that 91 (Sheldon Richardson) was the one who had a chance, so I just tried to speed up a little bit. That big guy can run.”

Wright’s late-game heroics were part of a receiver corps that has been revamped during the season. Johnson has performed well enough in games and in practice to supplant Cordarrelle Patterson in the starting lineup and has quickly developed a rapport with Bridgewater.

Johnson was targeted eight times Sunday, the third time in the last four games that he has led the team in being targeted by Bridgewater. His 56-yard touchdown in the first quarter came after he put a double move on a defender and was wide open down the sideline. He ran under the Bridgewater bomb.

His quick ascent up the depth chart has caught some by surprise, but not Johnson, who said all he ever needed was a chance to shine and show what he could do.

“I wasn’t surprised at all,” Johnson said. “I work hard. I come out to work every day and work as hard as I can. When you get the opportunity, you take advantage of it.”

While Johnson’s touchdown was a beautifully thrown long ball, the pass to Wright was designed to get him blocking in front of him with the hope was it could spring him for a first down, not necessarily a touchdown.

For the Vikings defensive players, the play caught them by surprise. With the Vikings facing a third-and-5, if the play had failed, the defense was getting ready to come back on the field before things got deafening.

“It was surreal,” Greenway said. “It was a third down, so you have to be prepared as the defense to be ready in case we didn’t get it. I was getting my helmet and the crowd went nuts. I looked up at the scoreboard and saw Jarius running for the end zone. It was almost like it wasn’t real, but it was a great feeling when he hit the end zone and ended the game.”

It was all smiles in the Vikings locker room following the game, as the team celebrated their fourth win in their last six games. It was a memorable game for a lot of the players, but it was a moment Wright will never forget.

“This is the first time I’ve ever had not only a walk-off touchdown, but to do it in OT,” Wright said. “This is one of the happiest moments of my life. I just thank God I got the opportunity.”


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