Photo Courtesy of Vikings.com
The Vikings didn't play a fantastic game in all three phases, but they managed to perform well enough to pick up a dramatic 30-24 win in overtime. Daniel House analyzes the game and discusses more about what this means moving forward.
Updated: December 7th, 2014 6:20pm
By: Daniel House
The Vikings didn't play perfect today and the level of sloppy play was high, but they managed to squeak out an overtime win against the New York Jets. Teddy Bridgewater was very efficient and the offense was able to score enough points for the Vikings to win the game. Their defense was having some issues handling the Jets running game and they were surrendering more yards to Geno Smith than most would have anticipated. The amount of penalties and missed opportunities really hurt the Vikings during moments of the game. They were unable to close the door at certain points of the contest, but an 87-yard touchdown reception by Jarius Wright was enough for the Vikings to knock off the Jets 30-24 in overtime.
Bridgewater continues to flourish
Teddy Bridgewater is growing as a rookie quarterback and he is showing that he is starting to adjust to the NFL. Today, he connected on a 56-yard touchdown during a fade to Charles Johnson. He finished the day 19-for-27 for 309 yards and two touchdowns. His lone interception came during a heave into the end zone at the end of the first half. Bridgewater managed the offense extremely well and checked into several packages after seeing the Jets defensive alignment. He was able to connect on the deep passes of 20+ yards down the field and he is becoming more comfortable with his wide receivers. The throws we saw today were similar to those on his college tape, where he stepped into the pocket, and delivered passes with superior accuracy. He is learning the pace of the game and how he needs to perform to play at a high level every week.
Asiata just average
The Vikings are lacking explosion at the running back position and need some team speed at the position. Matt Asiata carried the ball 19 times for just 54 yards and he was averaging just 2.8 yards per carry. Recently claimed running back Ben Tate saw just three carries and Joe Banyard added just one rush. The Vikings need to mix in some more athletic backs, instead of using a road grader every snap. Nonetheless, this team has defied odds at the position with Peterson being suspended and McKinnon exiting with a back injury. They still need to add a playmaker at this position, but at this point, that will need to be done in the offseason via the draft or free agency. However, this team does lack dynamic explosion at the running back position right now.
Johnson and Jennings perform well, Wright is the hero
Charles Johnson continues to become a solid option at wide receiver and after passing Cordarrelle Patterson on the depth chart, he is seeing more and more snaps. He hauled in four catches for 103 yards, including a 56-yard score in the first quarter. With that being said, Greg Jennings has benefited from having another viable option at receiver.
The Vikings have been running shallow crossing routes to Jennings and he has been gaining great separation during these plays. Bridgewater was able to dump the ball to Jennings to move the chains on third down in multiple situations. Jennings is running great routes and he continues to make the tough catches in space. In the end, Jarius Wright was the hero after he caught an 87-yard bubble screen for a touchdown in overtime. Teddy Bridgewater appeared to audible into the play and he flared the pass out to Wright, who took it up the sidelines for a touchdown. Great blocks were secured by Jennings and Rudolph that sparked Wright to the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.
Offensive line woes continue
The injuries are piling up for the Vikings offensive line and guard Charlie Johnson left with an ankle sprain. Ironically enough, Vlad Ducasse was summoned to enter the game against his former squad. This group continues to underperform and they allowed three sacks to the Jets front-four. Bridgewater seems to always have a hand in his face, but he is starting to adjust and manage rather well. With all the injuries and discontinuities among this group, they are just managing to squeak by every week. However, the countless amount of pressures and untimely penalties are preventing the Vikings offense from taking the next step. There are sure to be shakeups at this position in the offseason, but this battered and bruised front better be ready for a monstrous Lions defensive front next week.
Defensive Line lacks power
The Vikings defensive line took a major hit when Sharrif Floyd exited after playing a half of football. They weren't getting adequate pressure up the middle and both the pass rush and run defense rook major hits. Geno Smith was provided with too much time to make decisions and find receivers up the field. It put more of a strain on a Vikings secondary that had a difficult time in coverage today. Everson Griffen was unable to close the door on a sack late in the game, that allowed the Jets to keep their drive alive. It eventually led to a game-tying field goal that put the ball into the Vikings offense late in the game. The defensive line needs to a better job of applying pressure, but also closing on the sacks when they are available. They did do a nice job of causing havoc via the blitz, but they need to do better when they are bringing three or four man fronts.
Brinkley and Hodges get it done
Gerald Hodges added a 27-yard interception return on the first play from scrimmage of today's game. He performed rather well during this game and his interception was a phenomenal snag that resulted in him using one hand to cradle the ball. In addition, Hodges was a great asset in run support and he showed that he is making more strides with continued coaching.
I thought Jasper Brinkley played one of his best games of the season today. He notched eight tackles and his ability to make plays in the rushing lanes was rather impressive. Brinkley did miss a few tackles, but he was able to make the tough plays when it counted. He is continually improving and might be finding some success though more coaching from the Vikings staff.
Rhodes is lockdown, Munnerlyn shaky at times
Teams have been totally avoiding Xavier Rhodes and when he is thrown at, he is shutting the door quickly. He is becoming a lockdown cornerback and his ability to make plays on the ball is truly a sight to see. Since not many balls are being thrown Rhodes' way, it has placed more strain on Captain Munnerlyn and Josh Robinson. Munnerlyn was beaten on several occasions and he picked up three critical penalties in the first half. After that point, he settled in and started to fix some of the issues that were plaguing him early in the game. The same can be said about Josh Robinson, who was beaten by Percy Harvin for a 35-yard touchdown in the first quarter. He had his share of mistakes, but he made some critical tackles including one that forced the Jets to punt late in the game. You like to see these players taking some risks and being rewarded late in the game.
Blanton leaves for MRI
Safety Robert Blanton was hurt near the end of regulation and Coach Zimmer said he would be having an MRI on his left leg tomorrow. Blanton is improving every week and I specifically like the strides he has made in run support. In the event he is out for any period of time, Andrew Sendejo will see more action down the stretch.
Walsh has major struggles
Today was one of the first days we have witnessed struggles from Blair Walsh during his career. He finished the day one for three on field goal attempts, missing from 39 and 56 yards. Both field goals were very mysterious and the 56-yard attempt was like a short game approach on a golf course. You have to wonder if Walsh is hurt or if he was just having a bad day. It is something worth monitoring this week to see if any news surfaces.