Vikings Secondary Bends but Turnovers Halt Breaking
There’s probably little argument to be made against the Minnesota Vikings secondary facing their toughest test of the season today. Sure, the Miami Dolphins didn’t have their starting quarterback, but a leaky Vikings defense was dealing with talented wide receivers on both sides of the field. They employed a bend but don’t break strategy when it mattered the most.
Skylar Thompson started under center for the Dolphins before Teddy Bridgewater took over following an injury. Thompson pushed the ball through the air and generated 89 yards early in this one. Bridgewater racked up 329 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Facing Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, there was going to be nowhere for the likes of Patrick Peterson, Chandon Sullivan, and Cameron Dantzler to hide. Miami’s wideout tandem presents nightmares for the opposition between the burner in Hill and an emerging star in Waddle. Ed Donatell’s defense hasn’t seen anything like the pair thus far, and they’ve surrendered plenty of yards through the air.
Sunday was no different for the Vikings defensive backs. Hill and Waddle matched Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen when it came to receiving production. Hill routinely was open across the middle, and Waddle sprung loose for a 49-yard gain of his own. While neither player stepped foot in the endzone, the pair wound up combining for over 300 yards receiving on 18 receptions.
It was clear that Minnesota put an emphasis on getting to the quarterback. With the secondary being outmatched, taking down Bridgewater was a must. Over the top, Harrison Smith saved the day on multiple occasions. He sealed the win after stripping Waddle following a catch, and earlier in the game he held on for an amazing interception that bounced off of linebacker Eric Kendricks’ head.
With Bridgewater looking to make things interesting late, he ultimately slammed the door on his Dolphins when throwing behind his wide receiver right into the arms of the veteran Peterson. When looking at what Miami was able to accomplish through the air in Week 6, it is hard to call the Vikings defensive effort a good one. What they did do, however, was create opportunities that we didn’t see as often from a similar unit a season ago.
The Vikings will need to continue coaching up the secondary, and Andrew Booth Jr. will need to eventually make an impact beyond just special teams, but sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good and that could’ve been part of the story today. The Vikings secondary didn’t have a game to hang their hats on, but they can pack their bags with a win.
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Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.