ReFo: Vikings @ Dolphins, Week 16
With hindsight this game didn’t have a whole lot on the line.
Miami did not know it, but they were officially eliminated from playoff contention despite rescuing this game late. For the Vikings, there were many positives to take from this game, though they will be concerned by how easily their defense was shredded on occasions.
Perhaps the most important thing from their point of view is next season, and the performance of several young players they will be building around.
Minnesota Vikings – Performances of Note
Teddy Bridgewater, QB: +3.9
Breakdown: All season I have been dancing around the question of Teddy Bridgewater because I hadn’t really seen him show that he was capable of very good things. Flashes of good here and there, but never over a long enough stretch to get excited about and with few enough mistakes to make you think he was capable of big things. This was the game that showed he is. About the only thing missing from his performance was a real deep threat, but he hit several beautiful intermediate throws and looked extremely poised in the pocket, hitting his dumpoff target when pressure materialized extremely quickly a few times. This was a game to get excited about for Bridgewater/Vikings fans.
Signature: Stat: Bridgewater’s passer rating (removing the spike) was 118.6 in this game. If you take away the dropped pass from Matt Asiata that ended up as his only interception it leaps to 138.5
Xavier Rhodes, CB: -1.8
Breakdown: Cornerback is a weird position where sometimes you can actually play quite well but get a raw deal when it comes to luck and still end up looking poor. Rhodes was in good coverage pretty much all game long, but kept finding himself on the wrong end of very fine margins. Whether it be a ticky-tack defensive hold to nullify a pass break-up or a pass that he deflects only for it to fall to Mike Wallace for a score anyway.
Signature Stat: Somehow allowed a catch on all six of the balls thrown his way, with a seventh pass ending up being a defensive holding call.
Michael Harris, OT: -3.3
Breakdown: It seems weird to suggest that Michael Harris did OK, but up until that final game-defining drive he actually hadn’t done too badly, considering. With Norv Turner’s 10-yard drops in full swing and Cameron Wake being about as tough an assignment as a right tackle in the NFL has to contend with, Harris had given up comparatively little despite being on an island with Wake much of the day. Of course, he then surrendered his worst play of the day.
Signature Play: Q4, 0:51. Harris left his worst to the biggest moment in the game. On third down of a late drive the Vikings needed to try and rescue the win, Harris was just turnstyled by Wake who notched the sack to bring up a punt.
Miami Dolphins – Performances of Note
Lamar Miller, RB: +3.3
Breakdown: This is as impressed as I have been with Miller in a game. It wasn’t just a case of his athleticism, which has always been strong enough, but his vision and reading of blocks was top quality in this game. On more than one occasion he read a potential breakdown of blocking without hesitation, cutting to a bigger gap on the line and maximizing the yardage he could gain on the play.
Signature Stat: Averaged 4.8 yards per carry, only Miami chasing the game for a while kept him from a very big day.
Randy Starks, DT: +3.7
Breakdown: Randy Starks was another player who saved his best until the final, crucial Minnesota drive. He made a few big plays, both in the run and pass game, but on that final drive he generated pressure on first and second down, killing any rhythm the Vikings’ passing game needed to take some yardage back on the drive.
Signature Stat: Generated five total pressures from 24 pass-rushing plays.
Brent Grimes, CB: -2.9
Breakdown: Brent Grimes is a fine corner, but this was not his finest hour (or three). He was thrown at seven times, allowing six catches for 88 yards and two touchdowns. Both Greg Jennings and Jarius Wright beat him badly for scores and Cordarrelle Patterson turned him inside out on a deep dig later in the game.
Signature Play: Q4, 4:59. Grimes is beaten for a touchdown and can’t even rescue things with a defensive pass interference penalty on the play.
PFF Game Ball
It’s tempting to go with a Miami player here because they ended up with the win. Randy Starks and Cameron Wake were huge in killing that final Minnesota drive and Lamar Miller had a fine game on the ground, but the best player out there was Teddy Bridgewater despite the losing effort.
Follow Sam on Twitter: @PFF_Sam