"These guys work hard every single day, they bust their rear ends to get better. I'm proud of this football team, the way they fight, the way they compete even when situations don't look real good, they fight."
That's the way Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer opened his postgame press conference on Sunday following a 21-18 overtime victory. In the game, the Vikings encountered a lot of adversity. But they found a way around it all and have a 6-2 record to show for it.
Here's a look back at how the Vikings responded to adversity on Sunday…
Adversity: Rams scored 15 straight points to lead by 5 at halftime
Response: After opening up a 10-0 lead just nine minutes into the game, the Vikings watched as the Rams strung together 15 unanswered points to take a 15-10 lead into the locker room at halftime. But the Vikings bounced back in the second half by scoring 11 of the game's final 14 points to win by three in overtime. The defense clamped down, the offense found the end zone and converted a two-point play, and Marcus Sherels and Blair Walsh starred on special teams.
Adversity: Allowed a rushing TD to Todd Gurley
Response: With a 10-0 lead and all the early momentum on their side, the Vikings defense took the field for a third time and was looking to force a third punt. But the Rams offense found a rhythm and marched 80 yards in eight plays to score on a 1-yard Gurley plunge. But the drive wasn't over for the Vikings defense. St. Louis elected to go for two, and they handed it to Gurley once more. The Vikings defense bowed up this time, though, and thwarted Gurley's rushing attempt to keep the Rams at six points. In a game that went to overtime and was decided by three points, that run stop on a two-point conversion way back in the 1st quarter was significant.
Adversity: Teddy Bridgewater intercepted on the second play of the second half
Response: After allowing 15 unanswered points in the first half, you can be sure the Vikings were resolved to come out hot in the 3rd quarter. But on the second play of the second half, a pass from Bridgewater to Stefon Diggs in the end zone was intercepted by Rams CB Trumaine Johnson. On the play, a flag was thrown in the end zone. The original call was defensive pass interference, which led everyone in the stadium to believe the Vikings would have a 1st and goal from the 1. But then the officials changed the call to offensive pass interference, which upheld the interception and turned the ball over to the Rams defense. From there, it was the Vikings who responded. The defense promptly forced a Rams three-and-out to setup the offense with good field position following a Rams punt. The offense took the ball and drove 60 yards in six plays, scoring on a Bridgewater TD scamper to regain the lead.
Response: Every team deals with injuries, and both the Rams and Vikings were missing starters entering Sunday's game. The Vikings also lost starters during the game, and several individuals stepped up. Trae Waynes was thrust into action when Terence Newman was being evaluated with concussion-like symptoms. Chad Greenway, already filling in for an injured Eric Kendricks in the defense's sub packages, was called on to play middle LB once Audie Cole was lost to injury. Brandon Watts slid in to full Greenway's spot at outside LB once Greenway slid to the middle. And of course Bridgewater was knocked out of the game and veteran Shaun Hill came on to steady the ship and help guide the Vikings down the stretch and into position for the game-winning FG in overtime.
Adversity: Rams K Greg Zuerlein converted a 53-yarder to tie the game with 17 seconds remaining
Response: After losing a 10-0 lead and then regaining an advantage, and despite a suffocating performance from the defense during the second half, the Vikings were unable to put the game on ice in regulation and instead saw the Rams tie the game with a 53-yard FG with only 17 seconds remaining in regulation. From there, though, it was all Vikings. Zimmer made a gutsy decision to take the wind rather than the ball to start overtime. The defense stepped up and forced the Rams offense backwards six yards before having to punt the ball away, the offense drove 26 yards in five plays, and Blair Walsh hit the game-winning FG from 40 yards out.
"We're a pretty resilient football team. I think even last week and as it continues on, I think they believe in each other. I think we played very good complimentary football. It's not always pretty all of the time, but it's awful pretty when you get the W." – Mike Zimmer