The Vikings wrapped up their three-game home stand by registering their second consecutive victory, defeating the New York Jets 30-24 in overtime. LB Gerald Hodges got things going early with a pick-six on the first play of the game and rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater had it going all afternoon, passing for 309 yards and two touchdowns, including an 87-yard catch-and-run to Jarius Wright in overtime.
Why did the Vikings win Sunday's game? Let's take a look.
1. Teddy Bridgewater Played His Best GameTeddy Bridgewater took another big step in his development, authoring perhaps his best performance of the season. The numbers were impressive – 19 of 27 for 309 yards with two touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of 117.7 – but the performance was actually better than the numbers illustrate. That stat line doesn't take into account a 22-yard pass to WR Charles Johnson that resulted in a touchdown when FB Jerome Felton pounced on Johnson's fumble. Add a touchdown to Bridgewater's box score and take away the meaningless interception he threw on the last play of the first half, and the stat line would've been even more impressive. Aside from the numbers, Bridgewater was impressive in that he was sharp at the line of scrimmage (Mike Zimmer credited him for checking into the game-winning play), he made big plays in big moments and he was careful with the ball.
2. Scored on DefenseThe game couldn't have started any better for the Vikings. Blair Walsh lofted a high kickoff to the goal line, where Percy Harvin fielded it and was only able to advance it 19 yards. Then on the Jets first offensive snap, QB Geno Smith threw a slant to Harvin and Vikings LB Gerald Hodges was in position to get his hands on the ball and intercept it. Hodges sprinted down the right side of the field and returned the interception 27 yards for a touchdown. Scoring a defensive touchdown drastically increases your chances of winning a game, and scoring a defensive touchdown that early in the game always energizes the sideline and sets the right tone for the rest of the game.
3. Two 100-Yard ReceiversBridgewater was efficient and smart in using Greg Jennings (five receptions, 52 yards) underneath to pick up yardage, but he was also able to use Charles Johnson and Jarius Wright to stress the Jets defense on the outside. Johnson was utilized downfield, as Bridgewater connected with him for a 56-yard touchdown in the 1st quarter. Wright was used most effectively in the screen game, which is how he logged the game-winning 87-yard score in overtime. Add it all up, and the Vikings had a pair of 100-yard receivers on Sunday, yet another illustration of the improvement of the Vikings passing game with Bridgewater under center.
4. Red Zone DefenseIf you ask Zimmer, he'd say he'd like to never allow an offense to drive into the red zone. But this is the NFL, and eventually the opposing offense is going to put a few plays together and reach the red zone. When the Jets were able to do that, though, the Vikings defense bowed up. New York reached the red zone five times on Sunday, but the Vikings defense forced one fumble and four field goal attempts in those possessions, keeping the Jets out of the end zone.