LANDOVER, Md. – Through 9 video games of his fourth season as Vikings coach, Mike Zimmer finds himself in exactly the identical spot he was on the identical juncture of his second season: presiding over a 7-2 group that received its fifth sport in a row with a victory on the street earlier than a house sport that could possibly be essential to its playoff place.
“We have a chance to do something really special with this team, because we’ve got a bunch of fighters — guys that love to compete, guys that love to practice and play, guys that want to go out and do things right,” Zimmer mentioned in his speech following a 38-30 victory over the Washington Redskins, including a couple of adjectives that might be neither acceptable for the video clip on the group’s web site nor printable on this newspaper. “We’ve got to pull together. Let’s not make this an individual thing. Let’s go out and continue to get better.”
Consider how exceptional it’s that this Vikings membership is in the identical place because the 2015 version, which had a first-round decide at quarterback and the NFL’s main rusher within the backfield. These Vikings have cobbled collectively a top-10 working sport, regardless of the actual fact they misplaced second-round decide Dalvin Cook to a torn knee ligament. They have began two quarterbacks, with it presumably solely a matter of time earlier than they flip to a 3rd.
Teddy Bridgewater, the quarterback on that 2015 group, made his emotional return to the Vikings energetic roster on Sunday at FedEx Field, reaching a serious milestone 14 months after the knee damage that put his future doubtful. Bridgewater was in tears in the course of the nationwide anthem, however he didn’t see the sphere throughout a victory that confirmed why Case Keenum — winner of 5 of his seven begins — has each a powerful declare to the beginning job and an opportunity to lose it.
But even when their path to the highest of the NFC North has been a bit circuitous, the Vikings maintain selecting up steam. They are tied for the second-best file within the NFC with the Los Angeles Rams, whom the Vikings will face at dwelling on Sunday.
“I wish we’d played a little better defensively today, but it was an awful good win,” Zimmer mentioned. “These games in this league are tough to win. When you score 38 points, you’re doing something right. I don’t think we played great with the lead, but we haven’t been in those situations very much. Hopefully, that’s a learning experience for us as well.”
Keenum carried an ideal pbader score nicely into the third quarter, connecting on 4 landing pbades and drilling deep strikes to Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs because the Vikings posted 28 factors within the first half of a sport for the primary time since Nov. 30, 2014. He threw a career-high 4 landing pbades, and ended the day with 304 pbading yards on 21-for-29 pbading.
Were it not for 2 throws within the third quarter, the Vikings won’t have something to consider earlier than subsequent Sunday’s dwelling sport towards the NFC West-leading Rams. Keenum, although, threw a pair of interceptions that facilitated a Redskins comeback.
On the primary, Keenum threw a late move off his again foot meant for Kyle Rudolph, and D.J. Swearinger intercepted it to arrange an extended Washington drive. That drive would finish with a fourth-down cease after Brian Robison — beginning rather than injured Everson Griffen — batted down a Kirk Cousins move.
But on Keenum’s subsequent throw, Swearinger jumped an out route meant for Rudolph and took it again to the Vikings 2 earlier than fumbling out of bounds.
“He’s an excitable guy, and he needs to understand when’s the good place and bad place [to throw] sometimes,” Zimmer mentioned of Keenum.
Zimmer instructed Fox’s broadcast crew in a Saturday evening manufacturing badembly that “Teddy Bridgewater will be our quarterback at some point,” and mentioned after the sport, “I’ve obtained a plan, and we’ll simply see the way it goes.
“Sometimes plans change, but we’ll see how it goes. We’ll sit down this week and we’ll visit about it and we’re going to go from there.”
Even with its warts, Keenum’s efficiency helped the Vikings win in a constructing the place they’ve struggled lately, on a day the place Washington moved the ball extra successfully than any group has this season towards the Minnesota protection.
The Redskins turned the primary group this season to attain greater than 26 factors towards the Vikings. Washington ended the day with 394 yards, probably the most any group has posted towards the Vikings this season.
After the Redskins pulled inside eight within the third quarter, although, Keenum directed a seven-minute drive that led to Kai Forbath’s 53-yard discipline objective. Washington obtained inside eight yet one more time, solely to have its closing onside kick try trickle out of bounds.
“We all knew Case was going to be the same guy on the next series [after the interception],” Thielen mentioned. “It’s a great feeling to have when you know that quarterback is going to come out and compete just like he has the whole game.”
The Vikings’ gumption is likely to be their biggest fixed, in a season with extra unrest than their file would counsel. Even because the components change, the wagon retains rolling.
Ben Goessling covers the Vikings for the Star Tribune. Twitter: @GoesslingStrib. E-mail: [email protected]