Vikings coach Mike Zimmer welcomed the learning opportunities Sunday’s 16-10 victory over Kansas City created.
The Vikings built a 13-0 lead and nearly squandered it.
“With all these games in the NFL coming down to seven-point games and three-point games, coming down to the wire, there were some great situations for our team to learn about that I think will be big factors,” Zimmer said Monday.
Zimmer was most pleased with the Vikings’ first down conversions on third-and-15 late in the fourth quarter, on a 30-yard pass to Stefon Diggs, and fourth-and-1 in the second quarter, on a 3-yard run by Adrian Peterson. Both drives resulted in scores. Defensively, Zimmer highlighted the Vikings’ fourth-and-1 stop in the third quarter and forcing Kansas City quarterbackAlex Smith into four consecutive incompletions on the Chiefs’ final drive.
“The more these things occur in the course of a ballgame, the more we get a chance to learn to be in these positions when it matters,” Zimmer said. “We have something to draw back on.
“We had some of those situations in Denver [two weeks] before and so now we get into these situations your guys don’t panic.”
The Vikings play their next two against NFC North foes — at Detroit on Sunday and at Chicago the following weekend. Zimmer said his team, 3-0 at home but 0-2 on the road, must play better away from TCF Bank Stadium.
“We’ve started fast at home pretty good,” he said. “If we could continue to start fast I think that helps. … Handling the crowd noise, making sure we don’t turn the ball over, we’ve got to protect the quarterback better than what we’ve done on the road, so those will all be big things. We haven’t had hardly any [opponent] sacks at home, but we’ve had several on the road.”
The Vikings fell behind early and trailed at halftime in each of their road losses this season. At home, they built early leads and held on from there. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has only been sacked three times at home but 12 times on the road.
Zimmer is hopeful defensive end Everson Griffen will be healthy enough to practice Wednesday. Griffen was a late scratch Sunday due to an illness. Zimmer said he didn’t know anything about an NFL investigation into why Griffen’s health status wasn’t reported earlier to local media and the opposing team’s staff earlier.
“All I know is the guy was sick, ’cause I saw him. And we’re hopeful he gets back here on Wednesday,” Zimmer said. “I saw him today, he seemed to be good. … Everything that happened we didn’t know about until the time [it occurred].”
Big Phil returns
Injured right tackle Phil Loadholt was back at Winter Park on Monday and is optimistic about his rehab after surgery in August to repair a torn left Achilles’ tendon.
“I’m just listening to the docs right now and going at their pace,” Loadholt said. “Right now, it’s just taking it slowly. We anticipate things ramping up soon and get some timelines [then].”
Loadholt wasn’t sure if he would be healthy enough to participate in workouts next spring, but was optimistic he would be ready for training camp.
Punter Jeff Locke had his first touchback of the season Sunday, and the Vikings’ punt coverage team surrendered seven times the return yardage they had in the four previous games combined.
Locke continued his consistent performance with four punts averaging 45.2 yards.
“They’re a very good punt return team, and they have a very good returner [De’Anthony Thomas],” Locke said. “I thought I hit the ball well.”
The NFL stated its case defending Adrian Peterson’s six-game suspension last season to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis on Monday.
NFL attorney Dan Nash made the appeal in St. Louis. This was the culmination of the league’s contest against U.S. District Judge David Doty, who ordered in February that arbitrator on Peterson’s appeal last year overreached his authority.
Peterson already has served the suspension and was reinstated in April.