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5 From No. 5: Facing a Loaded Rams' D-Line

EDEN PRARIE, Minn. —The Vikings return home this weekend where the team has not played a game since Oct. 18.

Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater looks forward to protecting Minnesota's perfect 3-0 record at home.

With that being said, he acknowledged that the St. Louis Rams (4-3) are no easy opponent. Bridgewater admired what Jeff Fisher's defense has been able to do in the past couple of games.

"We know St. Louis is a very good football team I think they are top 10 across the board in every category on the defensive side of the ball," Bridgewater said at his press conference Wednesday.  "I think they only gave up a total of 12 points in the last two games. Those guys are playing some sound football. They are very disciplined."

The Rams have not allowed a single touchdown in each of those past two games and St. Louis' opponents have scored fewer touchdowns than any other team's opponents this season.

The team ranks second in the NFL in sacks (26.0) and sixth in the league in total yards allowed per game (328.1).

Bridgewater said the Rams' defensive line draws comparisons to the Broncos, the top-ranked defense in the yards per game category.

"They are similar to Denver, but each teams different," Bridgewater said. "Those guys have a ton of depth up front. They have guys who can come in off the bench and make plays for them and get around the quarterback. We know that this is a stingy defense."

Depth is worth noting, as St. Louis has 13 players on the roster who have sacked the quarterback this season. Two key playmakers on the line that the quarterback will have to keep an eye on are Robert Quinn and Aaron Donald. The two have combined for 9.5 sacks and are a big reason why the unit has stuffed run plays behind the line of scrimmage 36 times.

"Well, we have to be sharp on the protections especially the pressure stuff because you can't just pay attention to [Aaron] Donald and [Robert] Quinn and [Michael] Brockers," Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said. "You've got to make sure that you're aware of their corner cats – they have some corner cats and linebackers coming and safeties too, so they bring them from all different levels."

Here are four other points from Bridgewater's media session on how he can combat the Rams defense.

1. Learning to be patient

After studying the film during practice this week, Bridgewater noticed something he really wants to get better at. As a young quarterback, it's definitely easy to get lured into trying to make the "big play." Teddy said he is learning to work on his patience.

"I just have to continue to let the game come to me," Bridgewater said. "Continue to just do a better job of getting the football out of my hands and allowing our guys to make plays. Whether it's taking a check down and letting our guy make a play rather than trying to make the big shot every play. So just having some patience and letting the game come to me. I think that's what I started to do toward the end of the game."

2. Composure in big moments

Bridgewater has continued to reiterate that he plays better toward the end of the game. His career passer rating, which is better in the fourth quarter compared to the other three, proves the young quarterback has command of his team in these moments.

The Vikings showed composure in the final minutes of the game on Sunday to erase a 10-point deficit to defeat the Chicago Bears 23-20 in regulation.

Bridgewater said his unit was prepared to execute due to the preparation in practice.

"We practice the two-minute (drill) every week," Bridgewater said. "So we feel comfortable in those situations and it showed. The guys were very composed."

The quarterback credited his teammates, who made several big plays at the end of the game to help make the comeback possible.

Look back on images from past games between the Vikings and the Rams.

"Sunday those guys had that look in their eye that they wanted to go down there and score a touchdown and win the football game. And we did exactly that."

Zimmer commented on how his quarterback has handled the end of the game moments this season.

"I think as the game goes on he seems to get a better feel of everything the team is doing," Zimmer said. "Like I say sometimes when you come out early in the ball game you get a lot of different looks … and I think as the game goes on he's able to process."

3. Confidence in receiving corps

Not many teams have the depth that the Vikings have at the wide receiver position. Bridgewater acknowledged that the entire football team feeds of the confidence that his targets have developed since the beginning of OTAs.

"Those guys, I think they bring the swagger to the team," Bridgewater said. "You look back in OTAs those guys were competing against our secondary, and then throughout the course of training camp, those guys were batting every day. That's what you love to see. Guys that have confidence in themselves and know that they are going to get the job done. Stefon (Diggs) is exuding that. That entire wide receiver room, I've always said he has a great group of leaders in that room that have been showing him how to get the job done and he's been doing a great job for us."

4. Improving on consistency

The media asked Bridgewater if he wants to see more consistency in his game, or if he is just happy with the way his team is winning either way on Wednesday.

"We are winning and that's all that matters," Bridgewater said. "But I know that there are some opportunities that we're leaving out there that we have to take advantage of and I can do a better job of getting the ball out of my hands and allowing our guys to go out there and make plays instead of trying to do it all by myself. "

Zimmer thinks his quarterback can definitely be critiqued, but he notices the little things Bridgewater does and has confidence he will continue to improve moving forward.

"Probably if I was going to critique him on doing something a little bit better, I think when we have the opportunity to hit some plays that come up the right way, that we need to hit them," Zimmer said. "That could be sometimes a protection breaks down, sometimes he came off the particular receiver too soon, or the coverage dictated it going somewhere else. But I believe he'll continue to get better at all of those things."

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