By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings scored a defensive touchdown on the first play from scrimmage, but needed a long touchdown in overtime to defeat the New York Jets 30-24 Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater changed the play at the line of scrimmage to a wide receiver screen on third-and-five from his own 13-yard line. The rookie took the snap, tossed the ball to Jarius Wright and the rest is history.
The Vikings built a 21-12 lead late into the first half, but the Jets got three straight field goals to tie the game. Each team added another field goal in the final six minutes of regulation to send the game to overtime.
Offense Grade: B-
The Vikings got plenty of yards, but failed to put points on the board (some of it is because of a missed field goal) on four consecutive drives. In the second half they managed just three points in seven possessions after the first quarter.
The Vikings could have put the Jets away by scoring another touchdown or two. That is something the Vikings need to figure out how to do — develop a killer instinct and don’t let the other team hang around.
The Vikings did get good performances from several players. Wright had a 23-yard run to go along with four catches for 123 yards, including the 87-yard game-winning touchdown. Charles Johnson added four catches for 103 yards and a touchdown. Greg Jennings caught five passes for 52 yards, including several that converted third down plays into first downs.
Defense Grade: C-
The defense made some plays, but was generally gashed by Geno Smith and Percy Harvin. Former University of Minnesota star Eric Decker had some room as well. Harvin, the former Vikings draft pick, had six catches for 124 yards and a touchdown while Decker caught six balls for 89 yards. Along with giving up quite a few yards, the defense had an opportunity to get an interception, but the ball went through Everson Griffen’s hands.
The Vikings defense got big plays from Andrew Sendejo, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Captain Munnerlyn inside their own five-yard line. Harrison Smith sacked Geno Smith to take the Jets out of field goal range and Gerald Hodges had a pick-six on the first play from scrimmage to start the game. Xavier Rhodes broke up a pass on third down that would have gotten the Jets into the red zone.
Quarterback Grade: A-
To recognize the all-out blitz and audible to the perfect play is impressive, especially for a rookie. Bridgewater reportedly changed the play from a deep pass to the wide receiver screen when he saw the Jets showing no help in coverage.
The first round draft pick was not perfect, but showed some of the skills that have the Vikings coaching staff really excited about his future. He made good decisions and accurate throws.
Bridgewater finished the game with 309 passing yards and one touchdown (would have had a second if Johnson did not fumble just before the goal line) on 19-of-27 passing. He posted a 117.7 quarterback rating as well. He has now posted a rating over 100 in back-to-back games.
Special Teams Grade: D+
Two missed field goals is a big problem. Blair Walsh pushed both wide right. The first came from 39-yards out late in the third quarter and the other was a 56-yarder as time expired in regulation. Those missed field goals and Cordarrelle Patterson’s lackluster kick returns are too much for any positive
The positives were Marcus Sherels and Jeff Locke. Sherels returned a short kick 17 yards, but made a few tacklers miss. He also returned a punt 10 yards that involved a lot more running than just 10 yards. Locke averaged 49.3 yards per punt, including a long of 58 yards, and one downed inside the 20-yard line.
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Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. Joseph is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.