EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said Monday he didn't consider Minnesota's 29-26 comeback win over Washington the previous day the prettiest, but he did like the way his team battled back three times from deficits.
Zimmer, in his first year at the helm, said he's seen recent growth in a team that is generally quite young.
"There were some times earlier in the year when things were going bad and we didn't muster up what we needed to do," Zimmer said. "This ball game, there was a lot of fight going on, a lot of heart. Even though it wasn't pretty at times we were able to overcome them. The last three weeks especially, even the loss in Buffalo, and Tampa Bay how we continued to fight the entire time. I believe the team has a lot of confidence in Teddy (Bridgewater) and the things they can do. I just see it offensively how guys go about their business and what they believe in."
Bridgewater was able to orchestrate his third come-from-behind victory in just his fifth career start, and the Vikings scored three touchdowns on all three trips inside the Redskins 20-yard line (the TD pass from Bridgewater to Chase Ford was 20 yards, but the ball was spotted just outside the 20).
A major component of Minnesota being able to record its second straight comeback win were two defensive series in which Washington advanced to the red zone but had to settle for field goals.
Here's a look at those two series where the Vikings bounced back from not stopping the Redskins earlier in the possession to prevent touchdowns.
Washington converted a pair of third downs on its first possession of the game and had plays that gained 11, 9, 24 and 15 en route to a new set of downs at the Minnesota 13.
First-and-10: the Redskins hand the ball off to Alfred Morris who heads toward the left. Vikings defensive tackles Sharrif Floyd and Linval Joseph penetrate the interior of the Redskins offensive line, and defensive end Everson Griffen keeps himself free from a block and contains the edge of the defense until teaming up with Floyd to tackle Morris for a loss.
Second-and-13: Robert Griffin III drops back to pass, but rookie linebacker Anthony Barr applies pressure up the gut, beats a block attempt by Roy Helu, Jr., and brings down Griffin with a diving stab for his fourth career sack.
Third-and-21: Washington opts for a draw play to Morris to gain some of the yardage it lost on the previous two plays, and Barr brings him down after a gain of 6 to set up a 36-yard field goal by Kai Forbath.
The second limitation by the Vikings in the red zone occurred at a more critical stretch of the game because the Redskins had an opportunity to capitalize on great starting field position and increase momentum from their previous series that resulted in a touchdown and 17-14 lead.
Washington took possession at its own 49 after forcing a three-and-out by Minnesota and moved into the red zone in three plays. The Redskins converted a third-and-2 with a 3-yard run by Helu for a new set of downs at the Vikings 15.
First-and-10: Washington does a designed run for Griffin out of the read option look, and the mobile QB gains 9, but is brought down with a diving hustle play by Brian Robison.
Second-and-1: Barr knives through the line, or in the words of Fox color analyst Ronde Barber "absolutely ole-ed the tight end who was trying to block him," to penetrate the backfield before Morris gets going on a run play and records a tackle for a 2-yard loss.
Third-and-3: Griffen, the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for October, zooms past tackle Trent Williams, causing Griffin to drift to his right and throw the ball into the stands to keep the Redskins in line for a 26-yard field goal by Forbath and a 20-14 lead with 1:57 left in the third quarter.
The defense's ability to keep the margin within one score enabled Minnesota's offense to regain the lead on its next possession with a 7-yard TD by Matt Asiata, who later added the game-winner.