Slow was not the way to go for the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
The Vikings offense had a slow start to their Week 4 game against the Denver Broncos. They converted their first third-down attempt but quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was sacked twice on the next set of downs and the offense was forced to punt the ball.
Late in the second quarter the Vikings found themselves down 13-0, but they were able to fight their way back into the game and ended the first half being down 13-10.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said he thinks the reason for the slow start was because the offense was having a hard time adjusting to Denver’s defense, a defense that ranked No. 1 in the NFL heading into this game.
“We didn’t play very well offensively in the first half,” he said. “Took us a long while to get going. I thought we had to get used to the speed of their defense, so we didn’t start out very good that way. And then defensively I don’t think we did very good in the second half.”
In the first half, Bridgewater completed 14 passes on 26 attempts for 138 yards and a touchdown. The numbers are OK, but his accuracy seemed to be off in the first half, especially early.
Bridgewater seemed to be sailing a lot of balls over his receivers in the first half as he appeared to be dropping his elbow lower than he should when he throws, and the pressure the Broncos were applying likely contributed to his poor mechanics.
“You know you have to make faster decisions and get the ball out of your hand faster,” Bridgewater said when asked if he had to adjust to Denver’s speed. “But at the same time you can’t be too worried about the rush, so I just have to continue to execute our offense.”
Once the second half came around, the Vikings offense seemed to settle into a rhythm and Bridgewater looked more like himself. He was more accurate, completing 13 of 15 passes in the second half for 131 yards.
The second-year quarterback was proud of the way his team was able to bounce back late in the first half and through the second half. But he also knows what really matter is getting the win, which they failed to do.
“Guys, they knew that it was going to be a four-quarter game,” Bridgewater said. “Our backs were against the wall and those guys continued to compete, continued to fight. Defense did a great job of changing the field with two turnovers. Anthony Barr made an incredible play right before the half and gave us an opportunity to go and get points right before the half and Harrison came back and made an interception today. As a team I think it showed we’re ready for the big game, but at the same time we didn’t come away with the win. You play this game to win and that’s what’s most important.”
Zimmer feels the same way about his team. He was proud of the way they overcame the adversity in front of them and fought back. The game could have gotten out of hand fast for the Vikings, but the team was able to step up when they needed to and nearly pulled off the upset on the road.
“Our guys just kept fighting,” Zimmer said. “It could have been ugly to start, but we made a bunch of plays and we’ve got a lot of fighters on this football team. There’s still a lot of football left.”