Vikings players and coaches had strong words for the Rams—and especially defensive coordinator Gregg Williams—after Minnesota’s 21-18 overtime win, completed without QB Teddy Bridgewater, who left early in the fourth after being knocked unconscious by a shoulder to the head from CB Lamarcus Joyner.
Joyner’s hit on Bridgewater looked late, was flagged for unnecessary roughness, and will be reviewed by the NFL today. But Joyner, who grew up near Bridgewater, said he had already started his tackle before he realized the QB was sliding.
“I would never intentionally do a dirty play like that on Teddy Bridgewater. It was a bam-bam play. . . . I did not know he was gonna slide. When I launched, he slid, and we connected. If I could take it back, personally, I will take it back. Because I’m not a dirty player.”
Vikings guard Brandon Fusco’s response to that: “Yeah, he’s full of crap.”
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Vikings players weren’t buying it. “Teddy clearly gave himself up,” CB Captain Munnerlyn said. Others cited that hit, and a third-quarter play that saw Rams DE William Hayes going after Bridgewater’s knees after he had gotten rid of the ball.
“It says a lot about the character of their team, trying to hurt guys after the play,” Vikings offensive tackle Matt Kalil said. “When you’re trying to take cheap shots and possibly blow out our quarterback’s knee, it’s a little too far.”
“I think some of those players on that team are pretty cheap, to tell you the truth,” Fusco said. “I hope we see them again.”
The Vikings made it sound like this is an institutional thing, and head coach Mike Zimmer hinted at the culprit: St. Louis defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
“I do know that there is a history there with their defensive coordinator,” Zimmer said. Williams was the d-coordinator for the Saints in 2009, when they laid several hard, late hits on Vikings QB Brett Favre in the NFC Championship game. That game was one of those cited in the Saints’ bounty scandal, which led to Williams being suspended the entire 2012 season.
“If we were out on the street, we probably would have had a fight,” Zimmer said.
Bridgewater suffered a concussion, though he was reportedly walking around in the locker room after the game and went out to dinner Sunday night. His status for next week’s game against the Raiders is very much up in the air—he’ll have to pass the NFL’s concussion protocol. If he can’t go, it’ll be on backup Shaun Hill, who was 2-of-6 for 15 yards after replacing Bridgewater.