Well that was refreshing, wasn't it? A good old-fashioned blowout of a division rival in front of the home crowd to secure the first winning season in three years. No stress. No nail-biting. No letting a lesser team hang around until the end. Outside of a handful of injury scares, it was smooth sailing on a mild Minneapolis December day.
After the win, the postseason isn't quite guaranteed yet but it's basically assured. And how about that second year quarterback of ours? He had a pretty decent game, right?
Today, Teddy had one message to his haters:
Shh. Be quiet.
Shhhh, be quiet
Tonight is the night that we ride
30 camoflauge Hummers with killers inside
With choppers, doin surgery on bodies like they doctors
Time for our ninth victory stocks of the year.
Blue Chip Stocks
Teddy Bridgewater. As if there was anywhere else to start. Bridgewater had more touchdowns than incompletions on Sunday. His final line: 17/20, 231 yards, 4 touchdowns, 0 interceptions. He was on the money with nearly every single pass. Even the long touch passes.
He even ran for a touchdown by flying into the end zone.
Last week, Bridgewater did everything but come through with a the win. This week, he simply did everything. If Teddy can keep leading the offense like he has the past couple weeks the Vikings might just give a team or two a run for their money in the playoffs.
Stefon Diggs. After a few quiet weeks, the Vikings' best rookie in a class full of impressive rookies had a big day. He caught only three passes but two of them went for scores. Every time the ball is in Diggs' hands he's a threat to do something big, and he proved that again on Sunday.
Jerick McKinnon. J-E-T JET JET JET!!! McKinnon saw a lot more of the field than usual today thanks to Adrian Peterson's ankle injury and he made the most of it. Not running the ball--where he had 7 carries for 10 yards--but catching it out of the backfield and making people miss. Jet had 4 receptions for 76 yards but that total could have been much less if he didn't make so many people miss. McKinnon was the team's leading receiver and finally scored the first touchdown of his NFL career. Long overdue for an underutilized and under-appreciated weapon in this offense.
The crazy thing about it is that the touchdown was probably McKinnon's third best reception of the game. Jet has earned himself some more touches going forward.
Mike Zimmer and George Edwards. No Linval Joseph, Anthony Barr, or Harrison Smith? No problem when you have one of the best defensive minds in the game at the helm. Minnesota's patchwork defense held Chicago to under 300 total yards, and many of those yards were in garbage time anyway. The Vikings forced two Jay Cutler turnovers and five Bears drives that lasted three or fewer plays. Zimmer and Edwards get the most out of their guys almost every time they take the field.
Justin Trattou. Yeah, that Justin Trattou, who wasn't on the Vikings a week ago but was re-signed shortly after being cut. The Justin Trattou that has been active for three games this season. And now the Justin Trattou that has more interceptions this season than Xavier Rhodes and Chris Cook have in their careers. Combined. Justin Trattou has caught the same number of passes as Cordarrelle Patterson this year. I'd say that earns a solid investment, wouldn't you?
Zach Line. WHEN YOU TRY TO CROSS THE LINE, HE CROSSES YOUR GOAL LINE. OK half the reason I included the fullback here was so I could make another bad Line pun. (I have already made several on Twitter.) But Line is turning into a sneaky good weapon catching passes out of the backfield along with being a very serviceable lead blocker for AP. And here some of us were at the beginning of the season questioning whether the Vikings should keep a fullback on the roster at all.
Danielle Hunter, Tom Johnson, Sharrif Floyd, and Brian Robison. Since the preseason I have maintained that defensive line was the deepest and most talented unit on the team. Today I was proven right. All four healthy defensive linemen contributed at least half a sack and kept Cutler uncomfortable throughout the day. It was an excellent team effort up front.
Norv Turner. Is there a way that we can convince Norv Turner that every drive is the first drive of the game? He can certainly put together some great opening scripts. It looks like he's starting to take some of those concepts later in the game plan as well: misdirection, bootlegs, and passes that don't rely on long-developing routes and holding blocks for an extended time. However, he's still too predictable on first down. I get that you're going to run more with a lead, but take a look at what the Vikings did on their first down plays Sunday:
You gotta mix it up a little more than that. But overall Turner still called a very good game. The Vikings are such a better team when they're up by 10 compared to when they're down by 10.
Demontre Hurst. I honestly couldn't find anyone on the Vikings that had a bad enough day to put in this section. The offensive line only allowed one sack. The injury-depleted defense was on point. Special teams coverage wasn't great but no harm, no foul. But I could certainly find a Junk Bond on the Bears. Hurst's hit on Teddy Bridgewater in the second quarter could have ended Bridgewater's season. It looks like Hurst may have tripped up a bit before delivering the low hit, so he probably wasn't intending on going that low. But Hurst kept following through and lowered his helmet instead of making any attempt to avoid the cheap shot. Sadly it wasn't even the dirtiest hit on Bridgewater we have seen this year but Hurst should still be getting a fine for it.
Buy: The Vikings might be putting it together at the right time. Perhaps the beatdown at the hands of the Seahawks was just what the Vikings needed to kick start their stretch run. Minnesota is playing smarter and better up and down the roster just in time to finish with a flourish.
Sell: The Bears are the type of competition we're going to see in the postseason. Chicago put a stamp on their season after Gould shanked away their last two games and it showed Sunday. As soon as things started going south for the Bears, that was it. The Vikings looked great on Sunday but let's see them do that to a good team before we get too excited about the possibility of a deep playoff run.
Buy: The Bears executing the onside kick at the start of the second half. I'm actually surprised the Bears didn't go for more high risk/reward plays in the game. They had nothing to lose, so why not try all sorts of goofy stuff to pull the upset? It's how the Browns beat the Vikings at home a couple years ago.
Sell: The Bears being able to do anything with it. Or maybe it was just because the Bears weren't going to do much of anything no matter how they tried to do it. The Vikings were put in a couple of tough places from special teams and both times gave the ball right back to their offense.
Buy: Resting key injured players and still running away with a win. I'm guessing that if Sunday's game was a playoff game or a "must-win" against a more daunting opponent we may have seen a couple of the players that sat this one out. Thankfully the players that filled in did so admirably and gave Smith, Joseph, and Barr another seven days to heal without further wear and tear.
Sell: Getting more injuries. Xavier Rhodes hobbled off the field for a while. Teddy was gimpy after the low hit. I can't believe Peterson didn't break something on this play:
It doesn't seem like any of the injuries are major but they really could have ruined an otherwise great day for the Vikings.
Buy: the Vikings are going to be in the playoffs. Not even the greatest of jinxers (me) could jinx this one. The only way Minnesota doesn't make the playoffs is if all three of the following scenarios happen:
- Vikings lose out
- Seahawks lose out
- Falcons win out
Gemma Thompson Quote of the Day
This post is late because I had the second of two family Christmas gatherings of the weekend Sunday afternoon. A very large family gathering. At a city hall banquet room. With no televisions. At 1:00 PM. Obviously this was detrimental to my viewing experience. Thankfully a resourceful uncle brought a small TV in so 20 of us could circle around it for most of the afternoon watching the game and avoiding interacting with other family members. While my older daughter was chasing around a herd of other cousins aged 3 to 8 all over the building, she stopped in her tracks when she noticed a familiar purple team on the television.
"Look what's on Daddy! There they are! We like them!"
We sure do, Gemma. When the Vikings play like they did on Sunday we really like them.