Vikings coach Mike Zimmer described second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater as “spotty” with the NFC North title on the line Sunday night at Green Bay.
“I thought he rushed things a little. He was getting out of the pocket a little bit too much. There were times when he was running into sacks because he was moving too much. He just needs to settle down and play like he’s been playing,” Zimmer said late Sunday night.
“The lefthanded throw was … well, you don’t even want to know what I told him on that one.”
Bridgewater, a righty, had only 10 completions for 99 yards, threw one interception, fumbled once and was sacked three times. Green Bay safety Micah Hyde intercepted Bridgewater’s attempt at a desperation lefthanded pass while under pressure in the third quarter.
Bridgewater’s bad game came after three quality outings against Arizona, Chicago and the New York Giants in which he combined for 734 passing yards, five touchdown passes, no interceptions and an average rating of 118.6. Bridgewater finished with a dismal 45.7 rating Sunday.
“He just wasn’t as sharp [Sunday] as he has been these last three weeks,” Zimmer added Monday at Winter Park. “He didn’t take some of the easy throws he had. He was trying to do a little too much.
“But he needs to play better.”
The Vikings are host to No. 6 seed Seattle in the NFC wild-card playoff round Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium. It will be the Seahawks’ second visit to the Twin Cities this season. On Dec. 6, Seattle cruised to a 38-7 victory during which Bridgewater went 17-for-28 for 118 yards and no touchdowns with an interception and a fumble. He also was sacked four times.
Ellison’s season over
The Vikings lost tight end Rhett Ellison for the postseason when he tore the patellar tendon in his right knee on a reception early in the fourth quarter Sunday.
Zimmer said Ellison will undergo surgery, and it could be six months until he is back on the field.
Ellison was injured on his only reception of the game, a 2-yard loss. He has become a valuable piece of the Vikings offense this season as a blocker, pass threat and even fullback at times.
“Rhett is really a guy that does an awful lot of things,” Zimmer said. “He helps in blocking in the running game. He’s done a good job really with everything. He’s a smart guy, and we’re going to miss him. Rhett’s a good football player, and he’s probably a better person.”
Ellison finished the season with 11 catches for 124 yards and one touchdown.
Wide receiver Adam Thielen left Sunday’s game after aggravating a left shoulder injury early in the third quarter. Thielen said Monday that he is hopeful he will be back for Sunday’s playoff game.
“I’m good,” Thielen said. “I think [I’ll be ready Sunday]. We’ll see.
“It’s tough not to be on the field, so any chance I get to be on the field I’m going to take advantage of it.”
Thielen said he wasn’t sure how he hurt his shoulder, but “whatever it was, it wasn’t good.” Before the injury, he had 67 rushing yards on two plays — setting up 10 Vikings points — as well as a 16-yard reception.
• Running back Adrian Peterson had back spasms in the second half and left for X-rays in the locker room. Peterson returned and finished with 19 carries for 67 yards and one touchdown to secure his third NFL rushing title in nine seasons.
• Nose tackle Linval Joseph missed his fourth game in the past five weeks because of a lingering toe injury. The Vikings won’t practice again until Wednesday, when the first injury report of the postseason will be released.
•Defensive lineman Kenrick Ellis left the game because of a leg injury.
Zimmer praised his players’ quick response to Green Bay’s Hail Mary attempt on the final play of the game, which came with the game clock running down to zero.
“That was one of the most impressive things to me in the night,” Zimmer said. “As soon as the play before was over … they took off and went back to the end zone. They knew it was the last play. I was going to call timeout if the clock wasn’t going to run out. I thought the clock ran out, so I didn’t get it called. But I was going to call timeout to make sure we got set up the right way.”
Turns out his players were prepared, and Xavier Rhodes batted down Aaron Rodgers’ pass.
Rhodes was nominated for the NFL’s clutch player of the week Monday after knocking away that final pass, intercepting Rodgers late in the fourth quarter and collecting three tackles.
“It feels good to be noticed for your game and how you play,” Rhodes said. “So they let you know you played pretty well.”