The New York Jets have been beaten all kinds of ways this season, but this had to be one of the most difficult to swallow. After playing well by their modest standards and pushing a better team into overtime on the road, their defensive expert head coach lost a battle of wits with a rookie quarterback in the game's critical moment.
Teddy Bridgewater saw Rex Ryan's all-out blitz coming a mile away, changed the play and Jarius Wright turned the screen pass into an 87-yard touchdown to give the Vikings a 30-24 victory over the Jets on Sunday.
Wright caught Bridgewater's quick pass, broke a tackle and beat Richardson in a foot race to the end zone to stun the Jets (2-11) with the second-longest overtime receiving touchdown in NFL history.
''We didn't hold our water,'' said Richardson, who had three sacks and a safety in the game. ''He faked us out a little with a pre-hut (snap). And he made a check.''
It was a veteran move from the rookie quarterback, and it made all the difference for the Vikings (6-7). Bridgewater completed 19 of 27 passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns and Wright had four catches for 123 yards.
Bridgewater also threw a 56-yard touchdown to Charles Johnson, who had four catches for 103 yards.
''That game's clearly on my shoulders,'' Ryan said. ''Calling that third down, trying to get off the field on cover-zero (blitz). He hadn't hit anything against it all day. Probably showed our hand a little too early there.''
Jets quarterback Geno Smith overcame an interception that was returned for a touchdown on the first play of the game and gave a solid performance. After attempting just 13 passes last week against Miami, Smith was 18 for 29 for 254 yards with a 35-yard touchdown to former Viking Percy Harvin.
But Chris Ivory fumbled just as he was reaching the goal line, Jeff Cumberland dropped a pass in the end zone and the Jets' offense failed to score a touchdown on five trips inside the 20-yard line to let another game slip away.
''I know how badly everyone wants to win and I know that it means a lot to our community, to the fans, including myself and everybody,'' Smith said. ''But it's hard to have to keep losing this way.''
Other takeaways from Minnesota's victory:
HURTING HARVIN: Harvin was playing in Minnesota for the first time since he requested a trade from the Vikings before last season. He was booed every time he touched the ball but delivered his best performance as a Jet: six catches for 124 yards and four kick returns for 109 yards. But he needed crutches as he left the stadium after leaving the game in the fourth quarter with an injured left ankle.
''Especially at the end of the game, you've got OT, the offense is playing well, the game on the line, I definitely, definitely didn't want to be on the sideline,'' he said. ''I wanted to be in that battle with my guys to finish this thing out. But I couldn't go.''
MR. VIKING: Zimmer on Bridgewater: ''This franchise is Teddy's. I know that was a good headline for you. That's what he needs to do. He needs to take it over. This is his team now.''
QUIET OWNER: Jets owner Woody Johnson left TCF Bank Stadium without answering any questions after the game, with many expecting some big changes when this painful season finally comes to a close in three weeks.
''Woody's competitive. He wants what's best for this football team,'' Ryan said. ''He's passionate and he wants to put a great product on the field and obviously, today, he wants to win. Like anything else, so I'm responsible for this and I'll tell Woody and our fans and everybody else that. This is on me.
''But one thing. Obviously, I deserve a lot of criticism for the way this team's performed this season. I get that. But Woody doesn't. I can tell you that much. The Jets are in good hands with him as the owner, that's for sure.''
HODGES CASHES IN: The Vikings played without star rookie linebacker Anthony Barr, who missed the game with a knee injury. Second-year pro Gerald Hodges stepped in and made an athletic interception on the first play of the game, then ran 27 yards for the touchdown to get the Vikings out to a quick 7-0 lead.
JOHNSON'S BIG GAME: Charles Johnson's big day could have been even bigger. Johnson fumbled just has he was going in for his second touchdown of the day, but he was bailed out when fullback Jerome Felton fell on it in the end zone for a 21-12 lead in the second quarter.
''Teddy wants me to buy him steak dinner since I didn't get him that touchdown,'' Johnson said.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL