There are ways to lose football games, and then there are ways to lose football games.
It seems that only the Vikings could lose a football game in that manner, though, doesn't it? I mean, a blocked punt for a safety? Jeez. Oh wait. It was the culmination of a lot of things, to be honest. Multiple defensive breakdowns, a Vikings turnover, and so many bad officiating calls that the game should have been sponsored by the replacement refs petitioning for reinstatement.
Still, for as bad as the defense and the ending was, the one current in these games is the continued development of Teddy Bridgewater. He keeps getting better and better, and for awhile, it looked like his homecoming was going to be a pretty successful one.
Until the Dolphins safety. And the obligatory Dolphins celebratory dances. Safety. Dance. Hmmmm...
And say, we can dance, we can dance
Everything's out of control
We can dance, we can dance
They're doing it from pole to pole
We can dance, we can dance
Everybody look at your hands
We can dance, we can dance
Everybody's taking the chance
Oh well, the safety dance
Ah yes, the safety dance
The SMR that won't let Ryan Tannehill throw for four bills follows.
Blue Chip Stocks:
Teddy Bridgewater, QB: Earlier this week, Jim Souhan wrote a column that implored us all to quit comparing Bridgewater to Christian Ponder, and I thought to myself, 'who is still doing that?' I mean, it was kind of a stupid premise to begin with, to be honest, and Bridgewater, once again, had a very good game against the Dolphins. His two TD throws were on a dime to Greg Jennings and Jarius Wright, he ran the offense efficiently and smoothly in spite of subpar offensive line play, and once again engineered a fourth quarter comeback. His interception was more of a Matt Asiata fumble, yet Bridgewater came back time and again to get the Vikings in a position to win.
This season has been disappointing in terms of wins and losses, and off the field distractions, but the reason this team is better is due in large part to one guy--Theodore Edmond Bridgewater II. And the better he gets, the better this team will get. You can agree with me or not, but the Vikings FINALLY have a guy that can play quarterback at an above average level in the NFL, and that's going to make this team better moving forward.
Chase Ford and Rhett Ellison, TE: With Kyle Rudolph out, again, it felt like the tight end position was pretty much going to be forgotten for the last two games. Rudolph had finally started to come on, but with him out of the lineup, it seemed like the tight end was going to fade into the background again. But Ellison and Ford combined had 3 catches for 69 yards, and Ford had a touchdown that wasn't at the end of the first half. Seriously, if you can't call what appeared to be a clear touchdown a, you know, touchdown, then why the hell should we even have replay? But that was just one of about 27 horrid, HORRID calls in this game, though.
Blair Walsh, K: After what we all hope was a bottoming out game last week, Walsh got back on track kicking, going 2/2 in field goal attempts, and a nifty pooch kickoff that ended up giving the Vikings the ball on the Dolphins six after Jarvis Landry fumbled the pooch kick. The Vikes ended up scoring on the next play, and you kind of felt they had finally put the Dolphins away. Only until they didn't.
The Vikings secondary:
//Prosecuting attorney rises from his desk, adjusts glasses, clears his throat and approaches the jury
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, Ryan Tannehill threw for 396 yards and four touchdowns. The last time a Dolphins quarterback threw for four TD's in one game was Dan Marino in 1998.
//Prosecuting attorney turns, returns to his desk, and sits down
Gerald Hodges: You know, long term I like Hodges and think he'll be decent player in Mike Zimmer's system. But on Sunday, he had a pretty bad game, to include a bad, bad, BAD personal foul penalty that extended a Dolphins drive after the Vikings looked like they might have them stopped. Instead of a 3rd and 5 at the Vikes 30, it was 1st and 10 at the Minnesota 15, and they scored shortly after, taking their first lead at 21-17.
Heck, let's just include everyone else on defense while we're at it: The Dolphins ran pretty much at will, and were able to consistently be in second and short type situations. The screen pass burned the Vikes defense so bad Eric Sugarman was running out of gauze, the Dolphins were 9/13 for third down conversions, and for a quarterback that's been as battered as Tannehill has been this year, the Vikings weren't able to put pressure on him for most of the day. I would put this as the worst defensive performance of the season, to include the debacle at Green Bay. And it needs to be said again--Ryan Tannehill threw for almost 400 yards.
Colin Loeffler And The Worm Burner Special: So here's the deal. When the Vikings got the ball back with just over a minute left and three timeouts, I thought they had it in the bag. Noooooooope. Three and out, punt the ball, and pray the defense can force overtime. Only it never even got to that. Long snapper Loeffler didn't, you know, long snap it, punter Jeff Locke had his punt blocked for a safety, and my Dad and I literally burst out laughing, shaking our heads.
Buy: Harrison Smith's interception. Early in the second quarter Smith came on a blitz and jumped to knock down a Tannehill pass. Only instead of knocking it down, he ended up intercepting it, and the Vikings had the ball on the Miami 34. Three plays later the Vikings were up 14-0, and life looked pretty good.
Sell: Harrison Smith's missed interception. The possession before that, though, Smith missed a sure interception that was right in his hands, literally. The way the game turned out, it didn't affect the outcome of the game, but missed opportunities like that seemed to encompass the Vikings defense today--just a bit late on a rush, dropped interceptions, bad penalties. The defense was just off all day, and this play just kind of encapsulated it.
Buy: Matt Asiata's ground game. Matt
Assinotter Asiata was effective on the ground today, scoring two touchdowns and a big two point conversion to tie the game in the fourth quarter. His second TD run from six yards out, coming right off a Dolphins turnover, was particularly emphatic.
Sell: Assinotter the pass catcher. Technically, that was an interception on Teddy Bridgewater's card, but yeah, that was all on Asiata. It was actually a situation where he kinda caught it but not really and OH HEY JUMP BALL WHO WANTS IT. It really sucked, because the Vikings were driving, and a TD there makes it 24-14. Instead, the Dolphins kept the momentum, went down and scored, and took the lead. Brutal.
Buy: Referees could call a penalty on every play if they wanted. You could look at every replay and talk yourself into someone committing a foul. Be it holding, pass interference, or something else, hardly a play goes by without somebody doing something to someone.
Sell: Referees calling a penalty on every play in this game. I mean, holy crap was that one of the most horribly officiated games I've ever witnessed. Mystery defensive holding on Chad Greenway that extended a drive, mystery defensive holding on Xavier Rhodes that extended a drive, the BS PI call on Rhodes at the end of the game when he was looking at the ball and making a play on said ball, the list goes on. Did they cost the Vikings the game? 99% of the time, I think the calls even themselves out over the course of a game, but there's a nagging burning in my gut over this game. Not necessarily on the penalties, which were bad, but on the Chase Ford touchdown that wasn't right before halftime.
I mean, he had possession, his foot was in bounds, he dragged his toe in bounds, and he was inside the pylon before he went out. If that isn't a touchdown, then honestly, I don't know what a TD is in the NFL anymore. And if that was bad enough, when officials reviewed the Mike Wallace TD that occurred in a similar fashion later in the game, Wallace's foot was no more out of bounds than Ford's was, yet his TD call stood. It was one of the more horridly officiated games the Vikings have been involved in that I can remember. Since last week. Or the week before.
Don Glover quote of the week:
"How can these refs accept their paychecks in good conscience?"
Well, if they're anything like a government employee, it's pretty easy. Just sayin'...
So .500 is now out of the question, but getting a win against the Bears would give the Vikings their only divisional win in 2014, so I still consider this an important season finale. It'll be against the Jimmy Clausen led Bears, so yeah, getting a win to close out the year would be a good thing.