Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has been nearly perfect when passing on third down over the past two weeks. Three of Bridgewater’s four touchdown passes in the Vikings’ 38-17 victory over Chicago on Sunday were converted on third down and he’s 16-for-18 passing in his past 23 third-down situations.
Though all 16 completions haven’t been for first downs, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer has noticed the efficiency paying off.
“We move the ball well, we convert on third downs and we score touchdowns,” Zimmer said. “[Bridgewater has] felt good going into these last two ballgames. … Maybe sometimes in the past he saw some things that were covered that really had a chance to still get open. So now he’s throwing those.”
Bridgewater connected with Jerick McKinnon on third-and-7 for a 17-yard touchdown Sunday. Next, Bridgewater found Stefon Diggs on third-and-6 for a 33-yard touchdown. Finally, Bridgewater hit Zach Line on third-and-goal for a 4-yard touchdown. Bridgewater also had a 12-yard touchdown run on third-and 9.
The Vikings had the NFL’s third-best third-down conversion during Week 15 and seventh-best (39.5 percent) over the past three games. They’re 16th overall this season, but have climbed eight spots since sitting at No. 24 (36.2 percent) heading into Week 14 at Arizona.
“I think he’s always seen the coverage the right way, it’s just getting the ball to the right guy on time,” Zimmer said of Bridgewater.
Adrian Peterson was at Winter Park receiving treatment Monday while most of his teammates enjoyed a day off following Sunday’s victory. Peterson appeared to be walking without a limp and Zimmer said he expected his star running back to play next Sunday against the New York Giants.
“He’ll be all right,” Zimmer said. “[Head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman] said he’s like rubber man.”
Peterson injured his left ankle late in the first half against Chicago when a pair of defenders fell awkwardly on his legs following a 9-yard run. He returned to the game, but sat out most of the fourth quarter once the Vikings built a 21-point lead.
Zimmer erupted with anger on the sideline after Chicago kicker Robbie Gould converted a 51-yard field goal with 4:28 left in the third quarter to make it a two-touchdown game, 24-10.
The outburst was directed at himself.
The Vikings declined to take an offensive holding penalty on the previous play, keeping the Bears in field-goal range, but taking away what would have been an extra down on third-and-19.
“I was mad at myself,” Zimmer said. “I made the decision based on — what’s the word I’m looking for? — a scared defensive coach, [thinking] ‘Oh, they might get a first down here.’ ”
By Monday afternoon, Zimmer had already seen film of the New York Giants’ 38-35 loss to Carolina and caught a of glimpse of Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr.’s penalties, which eventually got him suspended for Sunday’s game in Minnesota.
“I did [see it]. I watched the tape. I didn’t see the close-up stuff of all what happened. So I don’t know,” Zimmer said.
Keeping mom warm
The Vikings have a lucky charm in Zimmer’s mom, Ann. After Sunday’s victory over Chicago, the Vikings head coach said “My mom’s got to keep coming back because she’s undefeated when we’re here.”
On Monday, Zimmer said his mom was in attendance for home victories against Kansas City, San Diego and Chicago. Plans have now been made to make sure she is at Sunday’s final home regular-season game.
“She’ll be there,” Zimmer said. “She reminds me every time she’s the good luck. I said ‘It has nothing to do with blocking and tackling, does it?’ She doesn’t like that.”
As for the expected colder temperatures, those won’t be an issue for Ann.
“We’ll get her a big coat,” Zimmer said. “She’s a coach’s wife. She understands.”