For a team that hadn't returned a blocked punt for a TD in nearly 30 years, the Minnesota Vikings blocked two punts in the first half for touchdowns (TDs) on their way to a 31-13 rout of the visiting Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers came into the game with a 3-7-1 record and they couldn't get much going on Sunday. If they've been cold this season they froze in the Tundra of TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. The temperature was around 12 degrees at game time but it felt more like 5 below zero.
The Vikings took advantage of the lowly Panthers and their mistake oriented game and while Carolina mounted an attack early in the second half, the Vikings shut them down for most of the game, especially when it counted.
Improved Teddy Bridgewater and Offense
Teddy had a much better game. Due to the two blocked punts, Teddy didn't have the ball as much as he would normally have had in the first half but he did play well when he had the ball.
Teddy didn't make many mistakes on Sunday and his throws were more accurate. Teddy finished the game with 138 yards passing and two TDs. He also threw 15 completions on 21 attempts. The good news is that Teddy didn't throw any interceptions.
The offensive line still has work to do but the Vikes only gave up three sacks. All in all the offense looked better this week and hopefully we'll see continued improvement from Bridgewater and company.
Defense Yields Only 13 Points
The Vikings defense has been the strong part of the team this season and things didn't charge much on Sunday. While the Vikings gave up a few big plays they held their own for the most part yielding only two field goals and a TD.
I was really impressed with Everson Griffen today. Griffen had two sacks as well as recovering one of the blocked punts for a TD. Everson is having a good year and is a big surprise to me.
Before the season started I criticized the Vikings for signing Griffen to an extension that I thought was obscene. Everson is proving me wrong this season.
Xavier Rhodes is another player that made a couple of big plays and he's becoming Mr. Reliable on the defense.
Blocked Punts Ruled the Day
As well as I thought that both the offense and defense played today, I thought that the two blocked punts that were returned for TDs were the game changers. They ignited the Vikings in the first half and they set the tone for the remainder of the game.
It was nice to see the Vikings make some huge plays on special teams and they finally broke through with some blocked punts and TDs!
The Vikings won't make the playoffs this season but I'm looking for them to make improvements in their remaining games. If they can finish 8-8 I will be happy.