On a day when Adrian Peterson was in and out of the lineup and not having the kind of day fans and teammates are familiar with, it was quarterback Teddy Bridgewater who put the offense on his shoulders and led the Minnesota Vikings to a 38-17 blowout win over the Chicago Bears.
On a day when Bridgewater completed 17 of 20 passes (his 85 percent completion percentage being the third-highest in team history), posting a passer rating of 154.4 (second-highest in franchise history), throwing for a career-best four touchdowns and rushing for another, his teammates had plenty of good things to say following Sunday’s game.
“Teddy had a day,” said wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who was on the receiving end of two of Bridgewater’s TD passes. “Our offense played very well, but he just shows what he can do each and every week. He showed his progress, continuing to step up and make plays when it matters most. He just showed the kind of guy he is.”
A week after throwing for a career-best 335 yards against Arizona, Bridgewater had the most efficient game of his career, nearly posting a perfect passer rating, throwing not just three touchdowns for the first time in his career, but four scores, and adding a touchdown run in which he leaped at the goal line rather than ducking and covering up, which got his teammates showing some shock and awe.
“The kid is playing at a very high level right now,” wide receiver Jarius Wright said. “He came out last week and had his career high in yards and then comes out and has a career high in touchdowns. You look at his stats and they speak for themselves. He had four touchdowns and, when he ran that one in, he didn’t slide because he had first down. He went airborne. Those are the types of things that really win players over and let you know he’s the real deal.”
Head coach Mike Zimmer and offensive coordinator Norv Turner have been saying all season that the Vikings offense has the explosiveness needed to be a big-time offense. But it hasn’t showed up that much this season, at least to the extent it did against the Bears Sunday.
With Peterson in and out of the lineup with an ankle injury, players like Jerick McKinnon had to step up and he responded, scoring his first career touchdown. It was all part of an onslaught that included the Vikings converting eight of 12 third downs, including scoring four of their five touchdowns on third-down plays.
“Coach Turner and Coach Zim challenge us every week as an offense,” McKinnon said. “We know how good this team can be and how many playmakers we’ve got. It’s been all about trying to put it all together and today we found a way to showcase that.”
Even the defensive players were excited to see what the offense was able to accomplish. While the defense had a strong day, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd said the credit should go where the credit was due.
“We’ve seen all year that Teddy can get the job for done us on offense,” Floyd said. “Offense helped the defense out today. The defense helped the offense out today. It was give and take between us and that’s what makes us a unit.”
Veteran linebacker Chad Greenway thought the defense played a decent game but wasn’t thrilled with his performance or that of his defensive mates. He said Bridgewater was the person who carried the mail for the team Sunday and that he picked up the team when it needed it most.
“I thought we did OK on defense, but today was all about Teddy and the offense,” Greenway said. “They really did a great job of getting some key third downs and keeping drives going. I thought Teddy played awesome. It was a good win.”
For those blocking for Bridgewater, there was a lot of satisfaction that their solid work was being rewarded.
The knock against Bridgewater’s lack of big passing numbers this season has been blamed in large part on an offensive line that has struggled to protect him consistently. Guard Brandon Fusco said Sunday was about as much fun as he and his line mates have had in some time.
“We were all pretty pumped up, especially when he scrambled for that touchdown,” Fusco said. “It was pretty cool. It was a great day for Teddy. I thought we did a good job of giving him the protection he needed and he came through with a lot of big passes. It was just Teddy making plays today. He carried this team to a great win. If we play like this every week, we can do some damage.”
With the Vikings looking to seal the deal on the playoff push that could see them meeting the Green Bay Packers in the regular season finale with the NFC North title on the line, Bridgewater proved that, when the chips are down, he can be the player who dominates a game and brings home a victory.
“It’s all attributed to Teddy,” Diggs said. “As far as playing receiver, your job is to catch the ball and do what you can. Teddy is just putting us in the right position and throwing some perfect passes. His play increases the whole team. It was a great win and all the credit goes to Teddy. He was awesome.”