There were two interesting comments regarding Sunday’s performance by Teddy Bridgewater from Fox announcers Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch, the former great Denver safety, who covered the Vikings’ 38-17 win over the Bears.
Bridgewater completed 17 of 20 passes for 231 yards and four touchdowns. He also scrambled for another score, a nearly perfect day that gave Bridgewater the second-highest passer rating in Vikings history.
The broadcasters recalled a pregame conversation with Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, in which Zimmer said he told Bridgewater that this time of year is when quarterbacking legends are made. And while the announcers said they weren’t ready to put Bridgewater into “the legendary class,” they also said that “Bridgewater is awesome today.”
Then the announcers added, “No doubt the quarterback is having a great day, but in this case the offensive coordinator [Norv Turner] is having an even a better day calling plays.”
Yes, Bridgewater has improved some since the last time he faced the Bears on Nov. 1 when he completed 17 of 30 passes for 187 yards, ran for 21 yards, and had one touchdown and one interception.
It was an unusual game in that Adrian Peterson didn’t have one of his typical big days against the Bears. He had 56 yards on 12 carries in the first half and only six in the second half. But an injury to his ankle late in the first half seemed to bother him, even though he returned.
Offensive line praised
Bridgewater praised the offensive line, since he was sacked only one time and seemed to have more time to pass than he has enjoyed in any game this year.
“It was a great overall team effort today, the guys did a great job of responding and the crowd was awesome,” he said. “[The offensive linemen] were great all day, and Coach Turner did a great job of mixing things up, and we executed at a high level today.”
Why was Bridgewater so effective?
“We just kept those guys off balance,” he said “Coach Turner did a great job of mixing things up, and we were pretty locked-in and it showed.”
Bridgewater also had some good words for receiver Stefon Diggs, who had been in a slump but in this game caught three passes for 55 yards and two touchdowns.
“Diggs with the two touchdowns, that was great seeing that guy get back in the end zone,” Bridgewater said. “Like I said, it was a great team effort and guys did a great job of responding and coming out and playing fast today.”
Diggs had slowed down a bit from his tremendous start to the season when he caught 25 passes for 419 yards and two touchdowns in his first four games for the Vikings.
It was somewhat coincidental that Diggs hadn’t caught a touchdown since the Vikings last played Chicago, and in the past three games he had tallied just eight receptions for 65 yards.
But after Sunday, his 693 receiving yards are second in the NFL among rookies, and the fifth-round pick continues to impress.
“Just all credit to my quarterback and O-line, everybody doing a great job and I’m just trying to do what I can,” Diggs said after the game. “It was just part of our scheme and how we want to win, and how I can put my team in the best position to be successful, that’s all.”
Bridgewater also took time to praise the play of tight ends Rhett Ellison, Zach Line and Kyle Rudolph.
“Those guys were great also, they did a great job in the passing game and in the running game,” he said. “It was just an overall great team effort.”
Was this his best game?
“I would just say it was a great overall team win,” he said.
Thielen makes plays
The Vikings second-year quarterback also had some good words about former Minnesota State Mankato standout Adam Thielen, who got a big rushing first down in the fourth quarter, caught a pass and recovered on an onside kick.
“Awesome, you talk about the big recovery on the onside kick and he was able to get a first down on the jet sweep [which set up the final touchdown of the game],” Bridgewater said. “He stepped in and made some good plays for us.”
Thielen said that he was pleased with making some plays when called upon.
“I think it was the best day as our team, that was a great team win,” Thielen said. “The coaches put me in a good position, and when your name is called you have to make a play.”
Is this a dream scenario to be playing for the Vikings?
“Yeah it is, I mean I just love playing football,” Thielen said. “It’s another chance to play football, and I’m going to do the best I can.
“You know I have a lot of work to do yet. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m glad this team is winning.”
What about Bridgewater as a leader at quarterback?
“He’s great, he’s always good,” Thelen said. “He was poised, and he’s always set up to have a big game and we just ride behind him.”
McKinnon has big day
When the Vikings selected Jerick McKinnon out of Georgia Southern, then an FCS college, in the third round two years ago a lot of people were surprised, but the Vikings believed in McKinnon’s extreme athleticism and that the 5-9, 216-pound running back would find a way to play different roles offensively.
Coming into Sunday’s game against the Bears, McKinnon had caught 12 passes for 56 yards this season while rushing 34 times for 157 yards. But on Sunday he caught four passes for a team-high 76 yards, including a big 17-yard touchdown. He also had seven carries, and his 11 touches were the most this season.
“Yeah, just trying to maximize the opportunities I get, and got a pretty good amount today so I tried to find a way to make a play for the team,” he said. “You know today [running back] was done by committee, all of us committed, Adrian, Matt [Asiata], myself, it was good to see everybody have success and come out with a win.”
The touchdown was the first of McKinnon’s career, and he said the ball will be in his locker when he gets to Winter Park. “Definitely a moment that I’ll cherish for the rest of my career and today,” he said.
McKinnon said that the offensive play this week — with six different players rushing the ball and seven players catching passes — was a challenge from the coaching staff.
“Every week we come in and Coach Turner and Coach Zimmer always challenge us as an offense,” he said. “We know how good we are as an offense, know how many play-makers we’ve got. We know about coming out and working hard and putting it all together. Today we showcased that.”
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. firstname.lastname@example.org