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Notebook: Defensive Mistakes Prove Costly

The hometown of Teddy Bridgewater and Xavier Rhodes was where the heartbreak was for the Vikings on Sunday.

Minnesota fell 37-35 at Miami on a day with waves of emotions. The game featured the second-highest points for and points against for the Vikings this season.

The decisive points occurred on a safety when Terrence Fede blocked Jeff Locke's punt out of the back of the end zone with 41 seconds remaining. Fede took advantage of his size to jump over Joe Banyard and of extra time caused by a long snap that was off the mark with Locke punting from his own end zone.

The Vikings past five losses are by a combined 16 points. Despite the narrow margin, Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer was particularly disappointed in errors the defense made and a pair of "ridiculous" unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.

"We didn't play well enough to win. We made way too many mistakes," Zimmer said. "We had penalties in crucial situations of the game. All the things I've been trying to preach for 11 months, we didn't do today. Critical areas of the field, red zone, third downs, it was not a good day."

Miami, which scored a touchdown on each of its five trips into the end zone, tied the game with 1:11 remaining on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill to Damien Williams, completing an 11-play, 80-yard drive in 3:24. The drive benefitted from a pass interference call against Rhodes on a third-and-14 from the Minnesota 18 a play before the TD. The 23 points allowed in the fourth quarter were more than the Vikings had given up in eight complete games this season.

"We didn't play Vikings defense," Rhodes said. "We let them pass the ball on us and get yards on us, so that's what it was."

Minnesota got the ball back at its own 13-yard line and wanted to duplicate the results of a drive at the end of the first half that started in the same spot and ended with a 33-yard field goal by Blair Walsh.

Bridgewater had to scramble on first down for a 2-yard gain, then was pressured and had an incompletion on second down. Cameron Wake recorded his second sack of the game on third down, allowing Miami to stop the clock with its third timeout.

"We wanted to remain aggressive and we had three timeouts, we had enough time to put together a drive and possibly get a field goal or score a touchdown and win the game," Bridgewater said. "We just didn't execute in that situation."

Execution wasn't a problem earlier in the fourth quarter when the Vikings scored two touchdowns in 11 seconds of game time.

Minnesota tied the game at 28 with 4:46 remaining on an 8-yard pass to Jarius Wright and a two-point conversion run by Matt Asiata. Wright's score came one play after Bridgewater found Rhett Ellison for a 40-yard catch-and-run, a career-long reception.

The Vikings kicked off from midfield instead of their 35 because of a penalty on the two-point conversion, and Walsh lobbed one to the edge of the goal line that Jarvis Landry fielded and returned to the 6 before slipping. Because Landry went to the turf on his own, the ball was live when it came free, and rookie Antone Exum Jr. recovered the fumble.

Asiata plowed into the end zone for a 5-yard TD, his second score of the game, a play later. He finished with 16 carries for 58 yards and had three catches for 19 yards.

TEDDY'S DAY: Bridgewater finished 19-of-26 for 259 yards passing with two touchdowns and an unlucky bounce on a check down to Asiata that led to an interception. He finished with a passer rating of 114.1, the third time in four games with a rating that high.

"I thought he played well," Zimmer said. "He had one interception that was bad luck, a tipped ball, and the rest of the time, I thought he did a good job of scrambling in the pocket. I thought he made some great throws. I thought he played with composure. I thought he continued to do all those things."

Bridgewater's first pro game at Sun Life Stadium, about 10 miles from his high school, included touchdown drives on two of Minnesota's first three possessions. Bridgewater extended the first with a 20-yard completion to Wright on third-and-7 and placed a perfect ball to Greg Jennings on a corner route for a 21-yard touchdown on third-and-8.

Bridgewater set a franchise record for starts by a rookie QB in his 11th start (Fran Tarkenton made 10 starts in 1961 and Christian Ponder made 10 starts in 2011).

STANDS AS CALLED: The Vikings came close to taking a two-touchdown lead into the locker room after starting a drive at their own 13 with 1:06 remaining. Originally appearing content to run out the clock, the mindset changed when Banyard converted third-and-5 with a career-long 16-yard rush.

Bridgewater followed with consecutive completions of 25 yards to Charles Johnson and 18 yards to Cordarrelle Patterson before stopping the clock with a spike of the ball with 19 seconds left at the Miami 23. He then placed a great ball to Chase Ford down the right sideline, but Ford was ruled out at the 1-yard line.

The play was reviewed, with the FOX television crew and rules expert Mike Pereira thinking it would be overturned to result in a touchdown, but the play stood as initially called. Minnesota unsuccessfully tried to punch it in with a run on first down, then tried a quick slant to Johnson before setting on an 18-yard field goal by Walsh for a 17-7 lead at the break.

PICK SMITH: Harrison Smith recorded his team-leading fifth interception of the season. Smith blitzed Tannehill and put his hands up when the Dolphins QB released the ball. Smith secured the catch after deflecting the ball and returned it 11 yards to the Miami 23. Bridgewater found Jennings three plays later to put Minnesota up 14-0.

GREENWAY'S COMMITMENT: Chad Greenway took the field with a heavy heart two days after his father, Alan Greenway, 56, passed away Friday after a long bout with leukemia. Greenway was sidelined during the game with a knee injury, and Minnesota's defense missed an undisputed leader the rest of the game, struggling at times with lining up and with sticking to the defensive plan. Greenway didn't practice Friday, but told Zimmer he planned to play.

"Chad cares about the Minnesota Vikings an awful lot," Zimmer said. "He told me his father would want him to go play, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family, his mom."

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