It took beating the blitz and making the right call Sunday to help the Vikings top the New York Jets 30-24 in overtime to take home a win that hopefully will help set up a solid final month of 2014.
Teddy Bridgewater and Jarius Wright ended the game with an electrifying 87-yard touchdown on a screen pass after Bridgewater saw the Jets dial up a blitz to try and stop the Vikings.
The play was the second-longest overtime passing touchdown in NFL history.
“We ran it a couple other times,” Wright said. “I thought in my head there was a chance to score.”
Bridgewater saw the Jets ready to bring heavy pressure on third-and-5, so he used a check to call for the bubble screen pass. Jets coach Rex Ryan second-guessed himself for the blitz.
“He hadn’t hit anything against it all day. Probably showed our hand a little too early there,” Ryan said, adding: “But I came here to win the game, not just play it close. Obviously, so that’s clearly on my shoulders.”
Bridgewater threw a bit high, but Wright jumped for the off-balance grab, slipped by Jaiquawn Jarrett and outran defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson the rest of the way with a block by John Sullivan to help spring the sprint.
“I just missed the tackle. There’s no excuse for that. I’ve got to get him on the ground,” Jarrett said.
Cordarrelle Patterson, the player the Vikings drafted last year to take Harvin’s place, was again a nonfactor with the offense and lost a fumble on a kickoff that led to one of five field goals by Nick Folk, who tied the game at 24 with 23 seconds left in regulation.
Gerald Hodges returned an interception thrown by Geno Smith for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage, but the much-maligned second-year quarterback bounced back for the Jets (2-11) by going 18 for 29 for 254 yards and tallying 33 yards rushing on six attempts. Smith was just 7 of 13 for 49 yards against Miami in the last game.
The Jets totaled 410 yards of offense, their second-highest output this season.
“We didn’t cover anybody today. We let them off on third downs. We didn’t protect the quarterback nearly as well as I’d thought,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said, listing his disappointments. “We were sloppy with the ball. I don’t know. How much time you got?”
Richardson had a safety among his three sacks, but Bridgewater wasn’t rattled by that big hit he took in his own end zone in the first quarter. He finished 19 of 27 for 309 yards and two touchdowns. Charles Johnson caught the first one for 56 yards and totaled 103 yards on four receptions.
Johnson almost scored again in the second quarter, when Bridgewater connected as he was hit for a 22-yard gain to the goal line. Johnson fumbled as he tried to reach across, but Jerome Felton dived between two Jets to recover it in the end zone for his first career score and a 21-12 lead for the Vikings.
“Go out there and let it rip and don’t worry about overthinking things and trying to be perfect,” has become Bridgewater’s mantra, at the urging of quarterbacks coach Scott Turner. Said Bridgewater: “Because when you try to be perfect, that’s when you make mistakes.”