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What do you think the Vikings will take away from the loss heading into the bye? Personally, I saw a lot of good receiver play. -- Cody Carter California
There's a lot to take away from Sunday's game. From a big picture perspective, the Vikings showed a lot of fight and resiliency on Sunday. They trailed 13-0 in the first half and 20-10 in the 4th quarter, but they never let the game get away from them and they even had the ball at the end of the game with a chance to drive down the field and win it. It's a big deal to do that to an undefeated team with a great defense and one of the best QBs of all-time. Getting more specific, there's no question the play of WRs Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and Mike Wallace was a highlight. They combined for 20 receptions, 240 receiving yards and 1 touchdown in the game. Certainly QB Teddy Bridgewater was a bright spot, despite dealing with a relentless pass rush. And you have to credit the Vikings defense for holding Peyton Manning to 213 yards and 1 TD while also intercepting him twice.
Stefon Diggs looked very good throughout the game. Does his play on Sunday open the door to more playing time down the road? -- Tom Nistler Grand Forks, ND
It certainly helps his cause. Diggs had a great training camp and a great preseason, so I'm assuming the coaching staff had a hunch he would flash a bit when given the chance to play. But there's also a process that players need to go through in terms of progressing and learning. That process was accelerated for Diggs this past week with injuries to Charles Johnson and Jarius Wright, and there's no question Diggs took advantage of the opportunity. He finished the game with six receptions for 87 yards. And more than just the numbers, it was the manner in which he produced those numbers that was impressive. He made catches in coverage, he made catches down the field, he made people miss after the catch. He definitely showed that he has some juice, so it'll be interesting to see how the coaching staff parses out reps at the WR position moving forward.
That was one of the most exciting games I've watched in a while, even though it ended in Denver's favor. One thing I noticed is how the absence of Phil Loadholt and John Sullivan showed during this game. What are some solutions the Vikings could consider to fix the struggling offensive line? Do they need to do more work with the guys they have now, or would it be safe to look at obtaining a lineman who help us improve? -- Michael Landblom
There's no question the absence of Loadholt and Sullivan is being felt. Those two are veterans, they are solid players and they are leaders. The Vikings allowed five sacks to San Francisco and seven sacks to Denver in their two road games. But the Vikings have also allowed just one sack in their two home games, so while they've struggled to protect on the road they've been very good in protection at home. That tells me that the players on the roster right now are capable of getting the job done, it's just a matter of diagnosing what's gone wrong on the road and correcting it while also maintaining what's been going on at home. Let's also keep in mind that protecting the QB is not the responsibility of only the offensive line. Receivers must get open, RBs and TEs can be asked to help protect, and the QB must get rid of the ball in time.
When can we expect Teddy Bridgewater to start throwing 300 yards plus per game? -- Tyler Waldner
I don't think it's about expecting him to throw for a certain number of yards per game. It's about doing what it takes to win the football game on that particular day. Manning is one of the best of all-time and has thrown for 300 yards countless times, but he threw for 213 yards and even had 2 INTs yet still found a way to win the game. Bridgewater played well on Sunday in Denver. The Broncos came into the game averaging 2 INTs a game, allowing 176.3 passing yards per game and 5.8 yards per attempt, and having surrendered a 58.0 passer rating to opponents. Bridgewater outperformed those averages, throwing 0 INTs, passing for 269 yards and averaging 6.56 yards per attempt and authoring a passer rating of 92.4. All of that while being under siege for much of the game.
What do you think is Blair Walsh's deal? I get that no kick is guaranteed, but I feel like we should be able to trust our kicker from 38 yards. -- Shawn @Solushawn
I don't have an answer for why Walsh missed the 38-yarder on Sunday; that is a better question for Walsh or special teams coordinator Mike Priefer. But Shawn is correct in saying a team should be able to trust its kicker from 38 yards. In fact, Walsh made a 38-yarder later in the game and was good from 33 yards to tie the game in the 4th quarter. We've seen Walsh kick at a high level, and that's why there is optimism that he can get out of his slump and return to his normal form.