Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.
Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.
Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.
Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway decided to suit up in the 37-35 loss to the Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on Sunday, two days after his father passed away, but he couldn’t finish the game.
Greenway missed most of the second half to a knee injury. He said he heard a pop in his knee as it was bent backwards. Greenway finished with three tackles and ½ a sack.
“That’s not what I had in mind flying to Miami and playing this football game,” Greenway said. “It just makes matters worse.”
Greenway was excused from Friday’s practice to be with his father, Alan, in South Dakota before he died that night. He had been batting with leukemia.
“It’s a tough week obviously for my family,” Greenway said. “It just came down on trying to make a decision on what’s the right thing to do. I talked with my family and everybody thought they’d be good handling the stuff back home if I came and played the game then met up with them when I got home and took care of business. It was a tough decision but the right decision.”
Greenway said it was a temporary distraction, but he’s looking forward to returning home to be with his family. He was very appreciative of the Vikings organization for allowing him to be with his family during the difficult situation.
“It’s really a blessing to be around the team and the guys,” Greenway said. “Really the whole organization is real supportive of my family, myself and they always have been from Day 1 when my dad got ill. It’s been such a blessing to be with this organization. They’ve been there for me every step of the way and continue to be there now. It’s all about us and the time we needed.”
Initial thoughts following Sunday’s 37-35 loss at Miami …
Like last week’s low-scoring two-point loss at Detroit, there were a lot of good things to come out of this high-scoring two-point loss to the Dolphins. But there also were some more alarming things, particularly in the second half.
First, the good.
Teddy Bridgewater played an outstanding game on the road and continues to prove this level isn’t too big for him. He completed 19 of 26 passes 259 yards, two touchdowns, an interception that wasn’t his fault and a 114.1 passer rating. On third downs, he was 6 of 7 for 97 yards, a touchdown and three first downs.
He made some difficult throws on corner routes outside the numbers. The 24-yarder to Greg Jennings on third-and-long was especially impressive.
Now, the more alarming part.
The Dolphins’ offense touched the ball four times in the second half. It scored four touchdowns. Three of the drives were 80-yarders. Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn had a particularly bad game, giving up two catches of 40 and 41 yards.
This was the worst the defense has played under Zimmer. A 30-point second half with 28 coming against the defense was unacceptable, of course.
As for the special teams, they tooketh away (recovering a fumble off a kickoff at the Dolphins’ 5-yard line) and gaveth away (a blocked punt out of the end zone for a game-winning safety) in the final five minutes.
At 6-9, the Vikings will have a losing season for the fourth time in five years. But perhaps the best news about this season is they have the quarterback to build around.
The Vikings lead 17-7 at halftime over the Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. Kicker Blair Walsh made an 18-yard field goal with two seconds left in the first half to give the Vikings a two-score lead.
The Good: Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater connected with wide receiver Greg Jennings once again for a 21-yard touchdown. Jennings ran a good route to gain separation from cornerback Brent Grimes, and the rookie quarterback had perfect placement on the pass.
It’s Jennings’ fifth touchdown this season and fourth in the last five games. He had just four touchdowns last season as the Vikings rotated through quarterbacks Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman.
It’s Jennings’ only catch in the game, however. Bridgewater went 7 of 11 for 118 yards and a touchdown.
The Bad: The Vikings had a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter. If this situation doesn’t sound familiar, it should. They had the same lead last week against the Lions and lost 16-14.
The Dolphins responded to Jennings’ touchdown with a 12-play, 92-yard drive that lasted 6:41 and ended with a 14-yard touchdown catch by tight end Dion Sims.
Running back Lamar Miller has carried the Dolphins offense with 104 total yards on 11 carries and four receptions.
The Vikings did a good job of scoring a field goal right before halftime, however, to extend their lead.
The Ugly: Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill had the biggest blunder of the first half when safety Harrison Smith intercepted his screen pass attempt. Smith blitzed off the right edge, the same side of the Dolphins’ screen play. Tannehill was hurried by Smith, who jumped up to bat the pass and ended up making the catch.
Smith has five interceptions this season. He could’ve had another interception in the first half, but Smith dropped a pass thrown right at him. Tannehill is 16 of 24 for 160 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph will be out with an ankle/knee injury against the Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on Sunday.
Rudolph has been active just eight times through 15 games. He recovered from sports hernia surgery in November, but Rudolph hasn’t looked the same since he returned. Rhett Ellison will start for Rudolph.
Safety Robert Blanton is active, but he will not start. He was listed as questionable on Friday with an ankle/knee injury. Andrew Sendejo will receive his second straight start at strong safety. Sendejo had a solid game last week against the Lions.
Rookie guard David Yankey will be active for the first time this season. Up until this game, Yankey was the only drafted rookie not to suit up. The Vikings have spent the entire season developing the Stanford product in what would be similar to a “redshirt” season in college.
Here’s the complete inactive list for both the Vikings and Dolphins:
S Ahmad Dixon
CB Shaun Prater
FB Zach Line
LB Anthony Barr
OT Carter Bykowski
OG Charlie Johnson
TE Kyle Rudolph
RB Rishard Matthews
RB Daniel Thomas
S Don Jones
LB Chris McCain
OG Dallas Thomas
OG Nate Garner
WR Matt Hazel
Vikings outside linebacker Chad Greenway is expected to play against the Dolphins today, two days after his father, Alan, lost his battle with leukemia.
Greenway was excused from practice Friday to travel back to South Dakota to see his father. His father passed away later that night.
Greenway is with the team here in Miami, and all indications are that he will play.
The nine-year veteran is second on the team with 91 tackles despite missing three games earlier this season due to broken ribs.
|Detroit||7||3rd Qtr 13:11|
|Cleveland||3||3rd Qtr 13:33|
|Atlanta||13||3rd Qtr 14:02|
|Green Bay||10||3rd Qtr 13:05|
|Kansas City||6||3rd Qtr 12:04|
|New England||7||3rd Qtr 10:54|
|NY Giants||3:05 PM|
|Denver||12/22/14 7:30 PM|
|New York||2:30 PM|
|LA Lakers||5:00 PM|
|New Orleans||6:00 PM|
|Maine||50||2nd Half 7:21|
|Ferris State||68||2nd Half 6:55|
|San Francisco||57||2nd Half 4:56|
|Oregon State||50||2nd Half 0:27|
|Coastal Carolina||40||2nd Half 13:10|
|Holy Cross||18||1st Half 2:34|
|Southern Miss||29||2nd Half|
|Western Carolina||23||1st Half 4:52|
|Creighton||16||1st Half 1:27|
|Maryland||29||1st Half 2:02|
|Cornell||32||1st Half 3:41|
|Vermont||17||1st Half 2:47|
|Loyola-Maryland||22||1st Half 2:11|
|Reinhardt||26||1st Half 3:50|
|Ark-Little Rock||29||2nd Half|
|TX-Pan American||30||1st Half 3:09|
|Alabama State||33||1st Half 3:51|
|FIU||13||1st Half 11:27|
|Goshen||0||1st Half 15:11|
|Austin Peay||2:00 PM|
|Tennessee St||2:00 PM|
|South Dakota||2:00 PM|
|Northern Ariz||3:00 PM|
|SD Christian||3:00 PM|
|UC Irvine||3:30 PM|
|Seton Hall||5:00 PM|
|Appalachian St||5:30 PM|
|North Dakota St||6:00 PM|
|San Jose St||6:00 PM|
|Alcorn State||8:00 PM|
|Sacramento St||9:00 PM|
|BYU||12/22/14 1:00 PM|
|Marshall||12/23/14 5:00 PM|
|Navy||12/23/14 8:30 PM|
|San Diego St|
|Central Mich||12/24/14 11:00 AM|
|Fresno State||12/24/14 7:00 PM|
|Illinois||12/26/14 12:00 PM|
|Rutgers||12/26/14 3:30 PM|
|NC State||12/26/14 7:00 PM|
|Cincinnati||12/27/14 12:00 PM|
|Duke||12/27/14 1:10 PM|
|(15) Arizona State|
|Miami-Florida||12/27/14 3:00 PM|
|Boston College||12/27/14 3:30 PM|
|(25) Nebraska||12/27/14 7:00 PM|
|(1) South Carolina||84|
|(5) Notre Dame||64|
|Fairleigh Dickinson||63||2nd Half 0:24|
|Buffalo||60||2nd Half 5:31|
|Bucknell||64||2nd Half 3:54|
|Mount St Marys||44|
|Stony Brook||65||2nd Half 1:31|
|FIU||72||2nd Half 3:28|
|Duquesne||35||2nd Half 5:51|
|Maine||54||2nd Half 0:02|
|William & Mary||51|
|Alabama State||38||2nd Half 2:46|
|TX-Pan American||38||2nd Half 3:40|
|South Dakota St||62||2nd Half 0:31|
|Radford||49||2nd Half 4:24|
|(3) Texas||34||2nd Half 17:12|
|(4) Texas A&M||41|
|Rhode Island||42||2nd Half 12:53|
|South Florida||25||1st Half 5:07|
|Sam Houston St||25||1st Half 1:51|
|Evansville||17||1st Half 3:12|
|(14) Maryland||53||1st Half 1:58|
|Coll of Charleston||34|
|NC A&T||10||1st Half 7:13|
|Princeton||38||1st Half 2:32|
|Eastern Illinois||37||2nd Half|
|Rider||31||1st Half 0:44|
|SC State||13||1st Half 2:23|
|Fairfield||27||1st Half 2:45|
|Cleveland State||42||2nd Half|
|Kent State||29||1st Half 1:07|
|South Alabama||9||2nd Half|
|Saint Peters||13||1st Half 1:02|
|Youngstown St||21||2nd Half|
|NJIT||23||1st Half 3:51|
|Davidson||10||1st Half 1:41|
|Indiana State||4||1st Half 17:16|
|Southern U||5||1st Half 15:59|
|Wright State||6||1st Half 12:06|
|(19) Oklahoma St||2:00 PM|
|Ark-Little Rock||2:00 PM|
|Northern Ariz||2:00 PM|
|North Dakota||2:00 PM|
|Western Ill||2:00 PM|
|(6) North Carolina|
|Ball State||2:00 PM|
|(8) Kentucky||2:00 PM|
|New Orleans||2:00 PM|
|Chicago State||2:00 PM|
|Bowling Green||2:00 PM|
|SE Missouri St|
|Northern Ill||2:00 PM|
|(23) Iowa||2:05 PM|
|Central Michigan||2:30 PM|
|Western Carolina||2:30 PM|
|Cal Poly||3:00 PM|
|No Dakota State||3:00 PM|
|Cal State Fullerton|
|Idaho State||3:00 PM|
|(18) Michigan State||3:00 PM|
|Fresno State||4:00 PM|
|St Francis-PA||4:00 PM|
|(10) Louisville||4:00 PM|
|(21) Miss State|