Minnesota Vikings HC Mike Zimmer’s bold overtime decision


The Minnesota Vikings had a hard-fought game against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, but one tough decision by Mike Zimmer made a big difference.

The game was seemingly slipping away from the Minnesota Vikings.  The offense was having a lot of trouble moving the ball down the field against the Rams in the second half of the game.  Things only got worse when starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater exited the game after suffering a concussion.

Despite that, the team kept playing hard.  While the offense was put on the shoulders of running back Adrian Peterson, Mike Zimmer looked to his stout defense to keep the team in the game and try to hold on to a narrow lead.

That lead evaporated with a Greg Zuerlein field goal that sent the game to overtime.  Prior to the start of that period, the two teams met out at the middle of the field for the coin flip to determine who would get possession of the ball to start overtime.  St Louis called tails.  The flip was heads.  The Minnesota Vikings had won the toss.

Nov 8, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer talks to the referees during the fourth quarter against the St. Louis Rams at TCF Bank Stadium. The Vikings defeated the Rams 21-18. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Without hesitation, linebacker Chad Greenway had this to say, according to Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback:

"“We want to defend this end.”"

The referee wanted to confirm that the Vikings really wanted to choose to have the wind at their backs rather than possession of the ball first.

"“You want to defend this end?”"

Chad Greenway nodded and the Vikings gave the ball to the Rams to start overtime.  That’s a bold move in today’s high-powered offenses of the NFL.  Tavon Austin and Todd Gurley were both having solid days and St. Louis’ last two drives were field goal attempts.  If the Rams were able to finish the first drive of overtime in the end zone, the game would be over.

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But that wasn’t the case.

The Minnesota Vikings held the Rams to a 3-and-out to start the extra period, then a nice punt return and some hard running by Adrian Peterson put the Vikings in position for Blair Walsh to make the game winning field goal.

The decision to choose the wind over the ball was a bold one.  However, I think it had more to do with Mike Zimmer’s confidence in his defense.  The Minnesota Vikings are the only team in the NFL to hold every opponent that they’ve played to 23 point or less.  They had been containing Gurley for the most part and showed a lot of discipline in the tackling game.

Fortunately for Zimmer, this tough call ended up paying dividends for the Minnesota Vikings and it makes him seem like an absolute genius.  Faith in the defense that he has built was the cornerstone for that victory, and you could see his players respond to his decision.

Mike Zimmer has these Minnesota players believing in him and trusting his decisions.  And it’s a beautiful thing to watch on the football field.