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Zimmer's Decision to Start Overtime on Defense Paid Off



With the game tied at 18 and heading to overtime, Mike Zimmer had a decision to make.

After winning the coin toss, the most common approach would have been to start overtime on offense.

Zimmer chose to go the path less traveled. He didn't choose the ball, he chose the wind.

With the NFL's overtime policy, the team starting on offense appears to have the advantage. If the first team with the ball scores a touchdown, the game is over and the opposing offense never even gets the ball.

With swirling winds gusting inward from the open end of TCF Bank Stadium, Zimmer decided to take the risk.

"It wasn't an easy one, I can tell you that," Zimmer explained about his coin toss decision. "(Greg Zuerlein) kicked a 60-yard field goal earlier with the wind. And I thought, 'Man, I don't want to give them the opportunity to kick another long field goal to win the football game.' So, we decided to defend the goal."

While the call may have surprised the crowd of 52,406 in attendance, the defensive captains understood. The unit responded with a three and out.

"I was just waiting as a captain to understand what he wanted to do," linebacker Chad Greenway said. "We have 100-percent faith in what he's doing with his decisions. We just felt that no matter what happened, we'd go out and play."

On the first play of overtime, defensive tackle Linval Joseph stopped Rams running back Todd Gurley for a 6-yard loss. That was followed by a completion for no gain and then an incompletion to force a punt.

"I'm glad we went on defense first because at the end of the day, we had to go out there and get a stop to get the energy going, and that's what we did," defensive tackle Linval Joseph said after the game.

A 26-yard punt return by Marcus Sherels gave the Vikings offense good field position. The unit would advance 29 more yards, setting up Blair Walsh for the 40-yard game-winning kick.

"It shows he has a lot of confidence in us," safety Harrison Smith explained. "We had to back (Zimmer) up on that, and it was the right call."

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