Vikings need to learn how to close out opponents

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As “good problems to have” go, the Vikings have a pretty good one. They’re building huge leads, but they’re having trouble holding them.

In each of their last three games, the Vikings have established leads of 18, 17, and 17 points, respectively. In two of those games, the Vikings had to sweat out a possible collapse.

So what do they need to do to avoid blowing these leads? I put the question to both tight end Kyle Rudolph and defensive end Everson Griffen on Friday’s PFT Live.

“You look back at the success that we’ve had the last couple years,” Rudolph said. “Traditionally, we’ve gotten the game to the fourth quarter and it’s been close and we know how to win close games. Playing with these double-digit leads in the second half is something that not only us as players are learning how to handle and deal with but our coaches as well. I think that’s obviously a good problem to have that we’re learning how to play with these leads, but as players you can’t worry about the scoreboard.”

So what is the mindset of the players on offense?

“Each time we go out there and possess the football we have to have the mentality that it’s a tie game and we need to go down and score,” Rudolph said. “You know, each and every time that you go out there that we just needed one more score and that our defense would take care of the rest.”

Griffen spoke to the mindset of the defense in those situations.

“I feel like we just need to stay locked in and stay more focused on finishing the opponent,” Griffen said. “Don’t ease up and just keep on putting . . . our foot on their throats. Just don’t ease up. We’ve got to be great finishers. I think we started a little better [on Thursday]. We started better, so that’s a good sign. We started better on both sides of the ball on offense and defense. We’ve got to be great starters and great finishers. I think that’s the next step that we’ve got to take. We’ve got to still be able to lock in for four quarters and pay attention to the details and get it done so the game doesn’t have to be close.”

Again, it’s a good problem to have. But it’s a problem that can eventually rear its ugly head at the worst possible time, as Minnesota’s next opponent (Atlanta) knows very well.

For more from Rudolph and Griffen, check out Friday’s PFT Live at Apple Podcasts, where you should subscribe to the show, rate it, and review it.

26 responses to “Vikings need to learn how to close out opponents

  1. I remember the good old days when my Packers had a lead. Heck, I even remember when we actually scored.

  2. I dont understand the lovefest for Bridgewater. He averages 1 td per game. Hes coming off a two year injury. What has he ever done? Seriously. vikings fans are taking keenum for granted like he’s no good and it’s only his team that is responsible for their 9-2 rec. Talk about dumb. Go ahead let go of keenum and go back to mediocre seasons with Bridgewater. You guys don’t deserve to be in the playoffs if you think keenum isn’t a franchise qb. Next year will be fun to watch if they keep Bridgewater. Back to being 7-9 and missing the playoffs. Keenum will gladly go to the broncos and turn them into superbowl contenders. The broncos and vikings are very similar. Just different qbs. A good qb makes the difference between the vikings or broncos being great or awful. You can’t just put anyone at qb. The broncos are a great example. And the vikings next year will be a great example when keenum is gone. I hoped the vikings would keep keenum. Now I want them to keep Bridgewater just to see the vikings fans look like idiots ,whoever thought keenum was getting lucky, isn’t a franchise qb, it’s the team around him..etc.

  3. This one might be on Zimmer. He can get conservative with his playcalling when the Vikes are up by a couple scores in the 2nd halves of games. Come playoff time, he’ll need to stay aggressive.

  4. When you are playing the officials as well as the opposing team, that’s what you have to deal with. On defense, pin the ears back and go all out. On offense, when you have a good lead, keep going for the big plays to set you up for more points.

  5. I dont understand the lovefest for Bridgewater. He averages 1 td per game.

    Stopped reading here. You have to understand football, not just box scores, to understand why Bridgewater is good.

  6. redandgoldhitman52 says:
    November 26, 2017 at 1:25 pm
    I dont understand the lovefest for Bridgewater. He averages 1 td per game.
    ———————————

    Sigh….. Pay attention and read slowly so you can understand. Bridgewater was thrown in his rookie year due to an injury and played well. The offense was built around AP getting the ball 25 to 30 Times a game. Ball control, field position and defense. The offensive line wasn’t half as good as it is now and Teddy maybe had 2.5 seconds to get rid of the ball. The year after that it has more of the same but Teddy was turning into the leader of the team and lead the Vikings to a division crown in Lambeau field no less. Turners offense held Teddy back and that was about to change last year before he was hurt. You have to realize what situation he was in at that time. He was told not to cost the Vikings the game as a young QB. Now he is ready to go out and win games with a far more talented offense that can use his skills.

  7. ARod(in his collarbone) says:
    November 26, 2017 at 1:44 pm
    When you are playing the officials as well as the opposing team, that’s what you have to deal with. On defense, pin the ears back and go all out. On offense, when you have a good lead, keep going for the big plays to set you up for more points.

    ————

    9-2 and still crying about officiating.

    Just stop.

    The grand plan to keep the Vikings down because the league likes the Packers better still swims in your bitter minds.

  8. tjacks7 says:
    November 26, 2017 at 1:44 pm
    I dont understand the lovefest for Bridgewater. He averages 1 td per game.

    Stopped reading here. You have to understand football, not just box scores, to understand why Bridgewater is good.

    ————

    Too bad. You might have learned something.

    I relish having Bridgewater back if the team is foolish enough to do so.

    Keenum is getting a defensive team with a bad offensive line over the hump with his ability to extend plays and keep the chains moving. He is keeping your defense offf the field and finishing drives.

    You never had that with check down Teddy.

    I realize Minny has had little to no good QB play in 30 years so I’ll clue you guys in. Look objectively at other teams with hall of fame QBs and you will understand why no one but viking fans understands why you want Teddy back

  9. Love the Vikings but some fans are delusional about Bridgewater. Their memories are great at what he might do and not what he has done. Keenum is playing at a level that TBW never played at. I will go with the known quantity before a promise.

  10. rich people problems. my biggest concern is Kai.

    the defense and offense were running on gas in the second half, but closed it out. 9-2 and the biggest games lay ahead.

  11. Zimmer trusts his defense so he won’t take unnecessary chances on offense. It’s worked pretty good, despite the Refs giving the opponent every break after they are down by two scores…

  12. 9-2 and still crying about officiating.

    Just stop.

    The grand plan to keep the Vikings down because the league likes the Packers better still swims in your bitter minds
    ——————————

    The small market team, with a storied past, with an HOF QB, playing in the most iconic stadium in the NFL is a good story. It gets the bandwagon fans to buy in and spend money. You better believe the NFL has a VERY vested interest in the Packers being competitive each year. I don’t believe a fix is in, but the NFL is more profitable when the Packers are in it to the end.

  13. I don’t get the lovefest for Bridgewater either, he simply hasn’t been a franchise QB before or obviously after the tragic injury. Drafting him over Carr was a mistake. That said Spielman signing Case Keenum was brilliant, getting Sloter smart and even the trade for Bradford (the best of the bunch when healthy) gave the team a chance to win. Maybe Teddy would have reached his potential if not for the non-contact, practice complete dislocation of the knee. We may never know. Ride Keenum and if he continues this kind of performance resign him. Unless Teddy does a one year prove it deal let him go. Bradford is sadly gone. Sign Keenum and Sloter and draft a guy next year to fight it out at QB.

  14. 3 glaring problems. The Vikings go conservative as early as the beginning of the 4th Q to try and run off time and it’s causing short drives and even 3 & outs. Their prevent defense is terrible. Granted they had the refs help but Det went 75 yards for the TD in 27 seconds to end the first half. Vikings have given up huge 30 , 40 yd chunks in that D. They need to continue playing their normal schemes. They also over blitz at times and get thrashed. Finally and most importantly the kicking special teams & Kai Forbath. Yes the blocked PAT & FG were not his fault but his 5 missed PAT’s and now FG’s are going to cost them at the worst possible moment. The Vikings need to address this before it bites them Gary Anderson, Blair Walsh style. I can hear Paul Allen’s call in my minds eye. Forbath lines up for the 19 yd chip shot to send the Vikings to the first SuperBowl played by a team in their home stadium. The kick is up. He missed wide right. NOOOOOOO

  15. icecubeusedtobeangry says:
    November 26, 2017 at 6:02 pm
    9-2 and still crying about officiating.

    Just stop.

    The grand plan to keep the Vikings down because the league likes the Packers better still swims in your bitter minds
    ——————————

    The small market team, with a storied past, with an HOF QB, playing in the most iconic stadium in the NFL is a good story. It gets the bandwagon fans to buy in and spend money. You better believe the NFL has a VERY vested interest in the Packers being competitive each year. I don’t believe a fix is in, but the NFL is more profitable when the Packers are in it to the end.

    ————

    All good points but the Vikings don’t have bad luck because of refs or a “fix”. The Vikings not making it to a Super Bowl in 40 years and never winning one is not because the league wants the Packers in it. The 70’s and 80’s were proof enough. If you suck, you crawl your own way out of that basement or wallow in mediocrity…

  16. I think this is a legitimate argument that Florio is taking. The really good teams, Patriots and now Eagles, are known to close out teams. Have you ever seen the Patriots get very conservative even when up multiple scores? I haven’t. Part of the reason they don’t games. The Vikings had comfortable leads in 3 games and let teams sneak back in. Yes, the refs were atrocious against the Lions but that’s still not a great excuse. I would prefer Vikings continue to get chunk plays and keep playing their game. If they want to get conservative in the 4th quarter, that’s fine, but don’t lay off the gas til then.

  17. Watch the Patriots, Saints, Packers and more when they are up in the 4th quarter. They keep throwing. And it’s actually easier because the defense is looking to stuff the run, knowing the Vikes want to keep the clock moving. The best way to keep the clock moving is get first downs!!! Not 3 and out punting! I will say the play calling has been more aggressive than the past. As for Teddy, he does have more ability than Case and now that there’s an offensive line, he would prove that. Just can’t change now. But to win a Super Bowl, he no doubt has more capability and a stronger arm for deep balls. That said, Case is doing great and until he has a bad game, he must stay in

  18. In Detroit they needed to close out the refs from making horrible calls. Not an option for the Vikings team.

  19. The Vikings are playing “good” football right now, nitpicking seems unfair. The Vikings just need to get the New England philosophy which is score, And keep scoring which allows your defense to play loose and fast. They are not that far away from figuring this out. The Referees did a pretty good job letting Detroit back in the game on thanksgiving, But the offense went too conservative in the 2nd half as well. I would like to see Zimmer have that “Put the boot on the throat” mentality as we get into December and the playoffs.

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