Zimmer doesn’t blame faulty clock for Vikings’ failed comeback
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Two-minute Teddy didn’t know the time when he threw his game-ending interception on Sunday.
Minnesota Vikings rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who has shown a knack for bringing his team back in late-game situations this season, didn’t know there was about 50 seconds remaining when he threw an interception in the end zone Sunday.
A day later, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was careful to not blame Sunday’s 21-13 loss on the faulty Soldier Field time system after using an expletive to describe the clock in his postgame press conference. But Zimmer acknowledged there was no understanding how much time was left in the game when Bridgewater unleashed the deep pass, which was intercepted by Chicago safety Ryan Mundy in the end zone with 42 seconds left.
"The only time the clock was really an issue was in the last two (minutes)," Zimmer said. "The Bears beat us, OK? It wasn’t the clocks. The Bears beat us. They performed better than we did.
In the two-minute drill, the clock became an issue due to Bridewater not knowing how much time was left on the clock. Teddy thought at that point when he threw the ball, he thought the clock was down and he tried to make a play in the end zone. That’s really the only time. It being a little disconcerting for the offense in the two-minute drill was the biggest issue."
With the clock malfunctioning for much of the afternoon, Zimmer was upset following the game. He said he spoke with league officials on Monday about the clock.
"They said there’s a lot of things they need to look into, and have protocol for in case a situation like that arises, and things they’ll discuss," Zimmer said.
Bridgewater has led three fourth-quarter comebacks in his first NFL season and was driving Minnesota again on Sunday. Despite an inept offense for much of the game, the Vikings had gone 37 yards on the final drive before the interception, working mostly passes underneath coverage.
Minnesota took possession at the 34-yard line with 2 minutes, 3 seconds left. Bridgewater completed three straight passes after a sack on the opening play of the drive to get the Vikings to Chicago’s 29-yard line.
With the clock malfunctioning though, Bridgewater didn’t know how there was about 50 seconds left when the ball was snapped for the final offensive play.
"I wasn’t sure at all," Bridgewater said after the game. "It was tough trying to communicate the time and trying to call a play at the same time when we were working against the time. It was one of those deals where we had to go out there and execute the calls and trust that whenever it was time to spike the ball the coaches would tell us when. I could have done a better job, could have gotten the ball to Jerick (McKinnon) and been able to spike the ball the next play."
Add Sunday to the list of experiences for Zimmer and Bridgewater in their first NFL season together, the first-time head coach and the rookie quarterback.
"The only thing, we talked about possible scenarios if this happens again," Zimmer said Monday. "The only thing that they said was, when there’s a timeout, they would come over and tell me how much time is left, you know, in the third quarter and stuff like that, which is fine. But they said it’s virtually impossible to get the number of seconds on the clock in the two-minute drill. There’s things we’re going to have to discuss in the offseason if that situation arises again."
Quick passing: In the final two drives, Minnesota’s offense and Bridgewater started to find some success after struggling much of the game. The Vikings had 47 yards of total offense in the second and third quarters.
Bridgewater finished 18-of-28 passing for 158 yards, a touchdown and one interception. Bridgewater attempted only one deep pass in the first three quarters and four in the game.
"Early in the game, we were talking to him about getting the ball out fairly quick," Zimmer said. "There was a lot of times the protection was good and he probably could have waited a little bit longer until something else developed before getting rid of the ball. It’s kind of the feel as you go kind of thing."
Getting the ball out quickly has been a priority, especially with the Vikings allowing 32 sacks this season, tied for fourth-most in the NFL. Charles Johnson had the only catch from a receiver in the first half on Sunday.
Zimmer said he didn’t believe Bridgewater’s reluctance to go downfield on Sunday was caused by the team’s focus on quick passes.
"It wasn’t that, but he probably could have been a little more patient at times," Zimmer said. "The thing I liked that he did, what I thought he did as good as anything, was there was a couple plays where he stepped up in the pocket and let the rush get pass, and then step up and found some guys down the field. I thought that was good."
Rudolph still working his way back: Tight end Kyle Rudolph was active for the first time since Week 3 because of sports hernia surgery, but he was held without a catch and wasn’t targeted in the passing game.
Rudolph ended up playing 14 of the Vikings’ 47 offensive snaps.
"Yeah, he’s feeling his way a little bit still," Zimmer said. "And so you know he’s got to let it loose a little bit more. You know, we wanted to be careful with him, but on the same token he needs to continue to feel good about where he’s at and try to let it loose too."
Zimmer had said Rudolph would be watched closely in his first game back. But Zimmer didn’t see Rudolph with the same explosiveness as before the injury.
"No, I don’t think he was holding himself back," Zimmer said. "He was confident, but I don’t know that was really confident. You know what I mean? As far as, OK, I can go run this route as hard as I can run. So Kyle is a great competitive kid that wants to please and do everything he can. If there’s a chance that he’s going to try to play, he’s going to play regardless of if he’s 99 percent or if he’s 88 percent. So I think he needed to get back into it. He was a little bit rusty in my opinion, but I think he just needs to get back into it more."
More from Robinson: Cornerback Josh Robinson was targeted 15 times, excluding screens, by Chicago in the game and allowed 11 catches, including three touchdowns. The Bears used the size advantage of receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery and continued to go at the 5-foot-10 Robinson.
Zimmer said after Sunday’s game, "I can’t make these guys taller," when asked about the size disadvantage.
Asked Monday about what more Robinson could do against the tall receivers, Zimmer offered a few suggestions.
"Maybe get the receiver restarted a little bit, look back on the ball, play the route better," Zimmer said. "You know, the guy made a great catch on the one on the sideline. That one doesn’t bother me as much. The long ball they threw for a touchdown — I believe it was for the second touchdown — he shouldn’t have been by himself. The 3rd-and-6, when they throw the stop out there, the slants, those are ones we’ve got to make. That’s part of the deal."
Robinson shouldered the blame following the game:
"I need to play better and that’s the biggest thing I can take from this game," Robinson said. "You can’t be in position to make plays and not make them. If you’re winning on a corner, you’re going to keep going back at him and it’s up to me to stop that from happening."
Follow Brian Hall on Twitter