EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner defended his play call at the end of the Vikings' 23-20 loss to the Arizona Cardinals last Thursday, saying it has worked for the team in the past and adding quarterback Teddy Bridgewater -- who was stripped of the ball on the play -- needed to throw quicker.
Coach Mike Zimmer told reporters last Friday "in retrospect, [we] probably could have called something else or we could have kicked the field goal" at the end of the game, and said on his weekly radio appearance with KFAN-FM that he didn't like the call.
Zimmer said the Vikings practice the play every week for late-game situations, but said the Cardinals brought more rushers than the Vikings expected. Bridgewater, who took a shotgun snap from the right hashmark and went into a seven-step drop with 13 seconds left, said he was waiting for tight end Kyle Rudolph and wide receiver Jarius Wright to get past the right hash on crossing routes. On Wednesday, Bridgewater said he did not have the option to check out of the play, adding the only thing he could have done was throw the ball over running back Adrian Peterson's head so the Vikings could attempt a game-tying field goal.
On Thursday, Turner said, "It's a good play. There's no reason to check out of it.
"We've got a lot of sideline plays. This is one that's worked for us last year, it's worked for us in the past. We never have a sideline play where we don't have a quick outlet. Adrian was the quick outlet. The way they defended the play, if we had to do it over again we would've thrown the ball over Adrian's head and kicked the field goal. They defended the play real well. Obviously we're on to Chicago, but the only thing I'd say is I think everyone will learn from that play."
The Vikings gave the ball to running back Adrian Peterson four times on the game's opening drive, after Peterson spoke out about his lack of carries in the Vikings' previous game against the Seattle Seahawks. Peterson gained 38 yards on the first drive, and though he only finished with 69 yards in the game, he carried 23 times, helping Bridgewater hit four of his first five attempts off play action for 93 yards, according to ESPN Stats and Information. Bridgewater threw for a career-high 335 yards in the game, and afterward, Peterson said on Thursday, he went to Turner and told him, "This is a winning formula, even though we didn't win."
Peterson had raised concerns with his lack of carries after the Vikings' home losses to Green Bay and Seattle, but praised Turner's game plan in his comments to reporters following the Cardinals game. Turner said on Thursday, however, that the issue of Peterson's workload is overblown."
"I think probably, if you guys remember, after the Seattle game, there was some questions about how much activity he had, how many carries he had, so he was probably pretty fresh," he said. "We thought we'd take advantage of that situation. He's capable of doing all of it. We've tried to manage it the best we could, in terms of making sure he's fresh throughout the entire game. It shows up with how he's been able to carry the football in the fourth quarter when we've had leads, or small leads, and been able to finish off games. In the Thursday night game, we saw an opportunity to make a move."
"I think you all try to make too much out of it. ... if he's in the game, or not in the game, or if it affects how the secondary plays, or doesn't play, or whatever things you ask me about."