After the Minnesota Vikings lost to the Arizona Cardinals last Thursday, I was left wondering the same thing I was wondering after the Denver Broncos game; do moral victories count?
By Jordan Wright
Personally, I don’t think moral victories count as anything more than something we tell ourselves to feel better about a loss. At the end of the year, they don’t look back and give us an extra win to account for a close loss. A loss is a loss. But I will say, I saw a lot of positive things in this game.
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had one of the best games of his young career, throwing for 335 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. Bridgewater seems to really step up when he plays against great quarterbacks, and this week was no different, as he had a better game than MVP candidate Carson Palmer.
Running back Adrian Peterson touched the ball 24 times and accumulated 86 yards with a touchdown. Peterson ran the ball well, and besides a terrible fumble when he tried to get the ball to Mike Wallace on an end around, he had a good game.
Wide receiver Stefon Diggs was nowhere to be found, but tight end Kyle Rudolph and wide receiver Jarius Wright stepped up to carry the offense through the air. Speaking of Rudolph, he has put together some good games recently and is finally starting to show the potential we all envisioned when Norv Turner signed on as the offensive coordinator.
Defensively, the Vikings did a wonderful job of limiting the number one offense in the league to only 23 points, which is exceptional when considering four starters didn’t play in this game. Terence Newman moved to safety and started next to Anthony Harris, a player who was signed off the practice squad just a few days before the competition. Moving Newman to safety allowed rookie Trae Waynes to get the first start of his career, and he seemed to have a pretty solid game, often going against Larry Fitzgerald who is one of the best wide receivers in the league.
The player of the game for me was Teddy Bridgewater. I know, some of you blame Teddy for that last play where he was strip sacked, but honestly I put that more on Kalil and the play call (but more on that in a bit). I think Teddy really stepped up, considering the Vikings were on the road against one of the best teams in the league and on a short week. If Teddy can play like this more often, I think we will hear a lot less people calling for him to be benched.
The person who needs the most improvement is Norv Turner (and to some extent, Mike Zimmer). I have never really criticized either Zimmer or Turner, but I can’t hold back after watching that last play unfold. With no time outs and only 13 seconds left, not to mention the Vikings were already in field goal range, there was no reason to run a play that was designed to only pick up a few extra yards. Kicker Blair Walsh might have some issues, but distance has never been one of them. We were already in his range, so why run a play that took way too long to develop, and had the potential for disaster?
As an added bonus, because I am in the holiday spirit, I will also include Matt Kalil in this section. Kalil was the main reason that last play got blown up. If you watch it again, Kalil is completely beaten by a single rusher. All he need to do was give Teddy three seconds to read the field and get rid of the ball, but apparently that is too much to ask out of the starting left tackle.
Looking ahead, the Vikings will play the Bears in Minnesota this Sunday. Chicago is only 5-7, but their last four losses have all been within one score. Jay Cutler has been playing well lately, and Chicago will also have Matt Forte back and healthy. The Vikings beat the Bears earlier in the season in Chicago, and assuming the Vikings defense can get healthy with a couple extra days of rest between games, I don’t foresee the Vikings losing this one.
As always, if you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to reach out to me at facebook.com/ skoljwright, or on Twitter @skoljwright. Skol!