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 quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was the biggest bright spot in the 37-35 loss to the Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on Sunday.
In a game where the Vikings loss on a punt blocked for a safety, the Miami native had his fourth straight game completing more than 70 percent of his passes. Bridgewater went 19 of 26 for 259 yards and two touchdowns. His only interception was due to a pass deflected off running back Matt Asiata’s hands.
“I was happy to be able to play in front of my family and everyone who was able to get down here to some nice 70 degree weather,” Bridgewater said. “That was pretty cool, but we knew that it was going to be a challenge coming down here to play the Dolphins. …We played hard and the guys executed, but we just didn’t do enough to win the game.”
Bridgewater led the Vikings down the field to tie the game at 28 with 4:46 left in the game on a five-play, 60 yard drive in less than two minutes. He connected with wide receiver Jarius Wright in what was one of many impressive throws by the rookie quarterback.
Bridgewater had a quarterback rating of 114.1, marking the third time in the last four games Bridgewater’s had a rating over 100.
“Four or five years ago, I was a senior at Miami Northwestern watching Dolphins games and attending Dolphins games,” Bridgewater said. “To be able to play against those guys today was a great feeling, being able to play against your home town team. At the end of the day, we didn’t do what we came down here to do so it won’t be such a great feeling.”
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. Alan had been batting leukemia for more than two years.
“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
|Buffalo||12/28/14 12:00 PM|
|Cleveland||12/28/14 12:00 PM|
|Dallas||12/28/14 12:00 PM|
|Indianapolis||12/28/14 12:00 PM|
|Jacksonville||12/28/14 12:00 PM|
|San Diego||12/28/14 12:00 PM|
|NY Jets||12/28/14 12:00 PM|
|Chicago||12/28/14 12:00 PM|
|Philadelphia||12/28/14 12:00 PM|
|New Orleans||12/28/14 12:00 PM|
|Carolina||12/28/14 3:25 PM|
|Detroit||12/28/14 3:25 PM|
|Oakland||12/28/14 3:25 PM|
|Arizona||12/28/14 3:25 PM|
|St. Louis||12/28/14 3:25 PM|
|Cincinnati||12/28/14 7:30 PM|
|San Diego St||16|
|Fresno State||6||3rd Qtr 6:18|
|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 2:30 PM|
|Boston College||12/27/14 3:30 PM|
|(25) Nebraska||12/27/14 7:00 PM|
|Texas A&M||12/29/14 1:00 PM|
|Oklahoma||12/29/14 4:30 PM|
|Arkansas||12/29/14 8:00 PM|
|Notre Dame||12/30/14 2:00 PM|
|(13) Georgia||12/30/14 5:45 PM|
|Maryland||12/30/14 9:00 PM|
|(9) Ole Miss||12/31/14 11:30 AM|
|(21) Boise State||12/31/14 3:00 PM|
|(8) Miss State||12/31/14 7:00 PM|
|(10) Georgia Tech|