Teddy Bridgewater Has a Flair for the Dramatic
By Dan Zinski
After Sunday’s dramatic overtime win against the Jets, Teddy Bridgewater can lay claim to an interesting statistical accomplishment: In 9 starts, Bridgewater has become just the 13th rookie QB since 1950 to put together three game-winning drives in the same season.
Calling Sunday’s game-winner a “drive” seems a bit off the mark though. It was really just one great play, initiated when Bridgewater checked out of the original call after identifying New York’s blitz.
Bridgewater’s two other game-winning drives came against Atlanta and Washington and were proper long drives. It’s kind of weird to think of the Falcons game as one that featured a “game-winning drive” but it’s technically true, as Bridgewater and the Vikings were down one going into the fourth.
The Vikings would go on to easily beat the Falcons, but for awhile there that game was fairly dramatic.
The other game-winning drive was more of a clutch down-to-the-wire victory. The Vikings fell behind the Redskins 26-21 with under 9 minutes remaining, but a calm-and-collected Bridgewater led them down for a go-ahead score, tossing a pair of 21-yard completions on the drive.
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The Washington drive would be finished off by Matt Asiata, just like the game-winning drive against Atlanta. And that’s why they call him the vulture.
It may not have technically been a game-winner, but for pure drama the final offensive drive against Tampa Bay has the Washington and Atlanta games beat. The Vikes were down 13-10 with less than two minutes remaining, but that didn’t faze Teddy Bridgewater one bit. The rookie took the Vikes from their own 20 down to the Tampa 19, setting up a game-tying field goal by Blair Walsh.
Anthony Barr would win the game on his ridiculous overtime strip-scoop-score, rightfully gaining hero status for that day, but without Bridgewater leading the Vikings on the two minute drill there would have been no chance for Barr to have his moment.
Of course in one sense this is all a bit of a ridiculous exercise. Quarterbacks don’t win games on their own and there are plenty of other people who deserve credit for the four drives outlined above.
But here’s the thing: the Vikings had those kind of chances before Teddy Bridgewater came along, and didn’t necessarily convert them with quite this much frequency. Bridgewater’s command behind center is a new element in the mix.
The fact that Bridgewater has 3 game-winning drives in his first 9 starts probably means nothing from a predictive standpoint – this seems especially true when you look at some of the less-than-stellar names on the list of guys who previously did what Bridgewater has done – but if you watched the actual games you realize that there is a tangible truth lurking behind that seemingly flukey number.
That truth is this: Teddy Bridgewater is very cool under pressure and seems to only be getting better at commanding the offense in clutch situations. Jarius Wright may have done most of the work on Sunday’s game-winner but without Bridgewater making the right call and delivering the ball, it doesn’t happen.
There’s a reason everyone makes such a big deal about the quarterback position. You can’t truly appreciate this until you’ve been stuck with Christian Ponder for a few years. After Ponder, we now know what a real QB looks like. And Teddy Bridgewater looks like he is for real.