Mike Zimmer spent most of a Monday news conference deriding his team’s defense after a 37-35 loss at Miami on Sunday.
But the Vikings coach did find some positives, including rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s 19-for-26, 259-yard passing performance.
“Offensively we did some very good things,” Zimmer said. “We were good on third downs, I thought we ran the ball effectively.”
“Bridgewater played excellent. Three weeks in a row he’s over 70 percent [completion percentage]. The quarterback rating was what, 114 yesterday? That brings a lot of hope.”
Actually, Bridgewater has been at 70 percent for the past four games. His record as a starter is 5-6 heading into Sunday’s season finale against Chicago.
“Early in the year I just struggled, and I wasn’t playing good football,” Bridgewater said after Sunday’s game. “[Offensive coordinator] Norv Turner said something to us a couple of weeks back, and he told us that we were going to be playing the best football in December. If you think about it, we’ve been playing pretty good for the most part. We’ve just been executing and playing pitch and catch, whether it’s me throwing the ball to the wide receivers or the running backs doing a great job following the offensive line and making plays for this team.”
The Vikings rolled up 357 yards Sunday and were a respectable 7-for-12 on third downs.
“The last five games, you can tell the offense is playing a lot better, and we’re starting to play well in Norv’s system,” left tackle Matt Kalil said Monday. “Once you get things clicking on all cylinders, this can be a good offense.”
The Dolphins’ victory came after they pushed the Vikings back to their 11-yard line, and Miami’s Terrence Fede blocked Jeff Locke’s punt out of the end zone with 41 seconds remaining for a safety. The snap from Cullen Loeffler bounced to Locke, giving Fede the split-second he needed.
“Cullen and I definitely weren’t in the rhythm we usually are,” Locke said Monday. “[I] just went down to get the snap, came up and tried to get it off as quick as I could, and just wasn’t quick enough. Looking at the replay, my head snaps up. I don’t remember doing that. But, in general, when you’re punting, you don’t ever really look up at the line. At least I don’t.
“[Loeffler] is like an older brother to me. … So the first thing I feel is just terrible for him. He’s such a great guy, and I felt terrible for that to happen at the end of the game.”
Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd got two 15-yard personal foul penalties on the same first-half sequence, first for roughing quarterback Ryan Tannehill, then for punching guard Darryn Colledge.
“It’s what I thought was a legal hit [on Tannehill],” Floyd said Monday. “Got up, turned around and [Colledge] came in and head-butted me. It was just reaction, not even any aggression toward anybody. I mean, you hit me, I’ll hit you back. But at the end of the day, I’ve got to control myself for my teammates and not take any personal vendetta.
“It’s always the second guy [who gets penalized]. I should have been the first guy, right?”
• Linebacker Chad Greenway (knee) left Sunday’s game and is in South Dakota for the funeral of his father on Tuesday. The severity of his injury is not known. Little-used linebacker Brandon Watts was in for six plays Sunday before pulling a hamstring. Rookie linebacker Anthony Barr (knee) is out for the season, so Gerald Hodges, little used earlier this season, played 85 snaps Sunday.
• The Bears benched quarterback Jay Cutler before Sunday’s loss to Detroit, but backup Jimmy Clausen suffered a concussion, so Cutler will start against the Vikings. Asked if that will make preparation easier since the Vikings faced Cutler earlier this year, Zimmer said, “I don’t know — the way we played yesterday, we need to focus on ourselves.”