Teddy Bridgewater ranks 26th in the NFL in fourth-quarter passer rating (84.8), but Sunday was a good illustration of what the Vikings’ young quarterback is capable of doing in the closing minutes of a close game.
In the final 4 minutes, 55 seconds of Sunday’s 23-20 victory at Chicago, Bridgewater took 11 snaps while the Bears had one three-and-out possession. In those 11 snaps, Bridgewater produced 10 points while going 6-for-7 for 102 yards and a touchdown. He also had a 19-yard scramble after a sack created a second-and-17 situation.
“We’re very comfortable in those situations, and it showed,” Bridgewater said. “The guys were very composed. The guys had that look in their eye that they were going to go down there and score a touchdown and win the football game. And we did exactly that.”
Bridgewater has one touchdown and two interceptions in 50 fourth-quarter passes. But he also is seventh in fourth-quarter completion percentage (70). First in that category is Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers at 78.9 percent. New England’s Tom Brady has the best fourth-quarter passer rating (143.5).
He’s still only 22
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer had to remind people that Bridgewater still is only 22 years old when asked if Bridgewater is too tentative earlier in games. Heading into the final two possessions Sunday, Bridgewater was 11-for-23 for 85 yards and no touchdowns with one interception that was turned into a touchdown and a 10-10 halftime tie.
“I think he’s careful with the football, but I would not say he’s tentative,” Zimmer said. “And young guys still get fooled once in a while. Sometimes, a coverage comes up a different way than he expects and he ends up going somewhere else.
“Even the good guys get fooled some. It’s just being able to dissect it. He’s usually pretty good at that, but there are times when he gets fooled once in a while. But they all do.”
Zimmer praised Bridgewater’s ability to manage game situations but said he’s looking for improvement when he alluded to the deep ball that was overthrown to an open Mike Wallace on what could have been a 57-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter.
“If I was going to critique him on doing something a little bit better, I think it would be when we have the opportunity to hit some plays that come up the right way, we need to hit them,” Zimmer said. “Sometimes, the protection breaks down, sometimes he may have come off the receiver too soon or the coverage dictated going somewhere else. But I think he’ll continue to get better at all of that.”
Diggs among five to sit
Five Vikings did not practice Wednesday because of injuries, including new star receiver Stefon Diggs, who injured a hamstring in the closing seconds of Sunday’s game. Diggs was seen working with the receivers during the brief open portion of practice but was listed on the official injury report as not participating. If he can’t play, Charles Johnson, the player he nudged from the starting lineup, would start.
Also missing practicing were linebackers Anthony Barr (lower back) and Eric Kendricks (ribs), center Joe Berger (chest) and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (knee/ankle), who hasn’t played the past two games but was running off to the side with trainers during the open part of practice.
Limited in practice were defensive ends Justin Trattou (foot) and Everson Griffen (neck), defensive tackle Tom Johnson (knee) and linebacker Audie Cole (finger).
On the injury report with full participation were tight end Rhett Ellison (concussion) and offensive tackle T.J. Clemmings, who injured his neck in the Bears game.
Marcus Sherels was honored as the first punt returner in Vikings history to win NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. Against the Bears, Sherels returned a punt 65 yards for his team-record third career punt return touchdown. He also made two special teams tackles.
Sherels’ touchdown Sunday was the Vikings’ league-leading ninth on special teams since Mike Priefer was hired as special teams coordinator in 2011. Only Philadelphia has matched that total.