Mike Zimmer still believes his Minnesota Vikings can be a good team, maybe a “really good team,” but clearly the head coach wasn’t going to sugarcoat a 23-20 loss to an undefeated Denver Broncos team, despite the Broncos’ last loss at Sport Authority Stadium coming in 2013.
“After watching the tape, I kind of feel like I did yesterday after the ball game – disappointed that we didn’t start better,” Zimmer said. “I think we have some resiliency and some tough guys and some fight. Probably didn’t play good enough to win. Too many mistakes against a team like that.
“And we’re never going to have moral victories around here.”
The Vikings certainly had their share of mistakes. They had nine penalties – including jumping off offside three times and three penalties that turned into Broncos first downs – gave up a 72-yard touchdown run and allowed quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to be sacked seven times and hit another 11 times.
But, despite falling behind 13-0 in the first half, they came back to tie the game in the fourth quarter against the NFL’s top-rated defense.
“I feel very good about this team. We’re going to fight, no matter winning or losing, we’re going to fight. We don’t quit,” nose tackle Linval Joseph said. “Everybody’s going to play together and that’s what I want and that’s what everybody wants here and that’s what Zimmer wants. Once you do your all, that’s what we want here. That’s what we’re fighting for.”
But they aren’t there yet. Zimmer repeated a mantra he has used since the start of the offseason program – he likes the way his team works.
Yet there is still plenty of room for improvement to turn them from a 2-2 team that has played competitively the last three games after a clunker of an opener to a team that can beat playoff teams on the road.
“We have to get better, there’s no question. I think the teams that we’ve played, three out of the four were playoff teams last year. The last team we played was 23-2 or something at home over the last two years, but I’m not happy with where we’re at? No,” Zimmer said. “I think we have a chance to be a good football team. And if we ever do put it all together, we can be a really good football team. But that’s a lot of ‘ifs’ and injuries and all kinds of things. There’s a lot of football left to be played. I think we have a chance to be a good team.”
If numbers are the measure, the stats show that the Vikings have plenty of ground to make up. They have the 29th-ranked offense, even with the second-ranked rushing attack, and the 17th-ranked defense.
But hanging with the Broncos at Denver gives the Vikings some hope that they can compete with the better teams.
“We feel good, but at the end of the day we wanted to win and if we would have minimized a couple of our mistakes, we could have won that game,” Joseph said.
“Just to go against a team that’s 3-0 or 4-0, they didn’t really make that many mistakes and they have a great quarterback – holding them to a lower standard than he normally performs at, I felt like we came out on top. I felt like mistakes, penalties, we just have to work on the little things and we’ll be OK.”
Zimmer took an overall look at some of the things that are going wrong, saying some players still want to do too much in big games. It’s something he’s preached all year.
“That’s just something that I’m going to have to continue to figure out, but it’s not like they spit the bit. They want to do good. They want to impress,” Zimmer said. “They want to be with all the elite teams in the league. … At some point in time we’re going to get over the hump.”