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Vikings twice blow leads, give up safety in final minute and lose to Dolphins 37-35

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MIAMI GARDENS, Florida — Teddy Bridgewater has already braced for the teasing to come.

The rookie returned to his hometown Sunday and threw for two touchdowns, but the Minnesota Vikings twice blew a lead and lost to the Miami Dolphins 37-35 on a late safety.

Bridgewater said his family and friends and Miami will be reminding him of the outcome.

"I'm pretty sure I won't hear the end of it in the offseason," he said. "We just made too many mistakes."

The biggest came in the final minute, when the Vikings had a punt blocked for the game-deciding safety. Miami outscored Minnesota 23-18 in the wild fourth quarter.

Both teams went into the game playing for pride rather than a postseason berth. Minnesota, which has been out of the playoff race since Thanksgiving, fell to 6-9 under first-year coach Mike Zimmer and blew a 14-point lead to lose for the second week in a row.

"We made too many mistakes and penalties in crucial situations," Zimmer said. "All of the things I've been trying to preach for 11 months, we didn't do today."

The Dolphins improved to 8-7 and have a shot at their first winning season since 2008. They'll sit out the playoffs for the sixth year in a row, but after the game, owner Stephen Ross announced coach Joe Philbin will return for a fourth season.

Minnesota scored 15 points in an 11-second span in the fourth quarter to take the lead, but Miami then drove 80 yards and scored on Ryan Tannehill's 3-yard pass to Damien Williams with 1:11 left to make it 35-all.

Minnesota failed to pick up a first down, and after long snapper Cullen Loeffler bounced the ball to punter Jeff Locke, Terrence Fede blocked the punt out of the end zone for the game-winner.

"Jeff made the best that he could with the ball," a dejected Loeffler said. "That's what it cost us — the low snap."

Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway played following the death of his father during the week but was forced to leave the game in the first half with a knee injury.

PHOTO: Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, left, and Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin shake hands after the Dolphins defeated the Vikings 37-35 in an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, left, and Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin shake hands after the Dolphins defeated the Vikings 37-35 in an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

"Not what I had in mind," he said. "That's what makes matters worse."

Bridgewater, who broke the Vikings rookie record with his 11th start at quarterback, went 19 for 25 for 259 yards.

"He continues to play well," Zimmer said. "I thought he kept his composure."

Tannehill went 35 for 47 for 396 yards, and directed an offense that totaled 36 first downs and 493 yards. He shook off a costly interception and two sacks and was knocked down at least eight other times.

The Vikings trailed 28-20 but drove 59 yards for a touchdown and made the 2-point conversion. On the ensuing kickoff they recovered Jarvis Landry's fumble at the 5, and Matt Asiata ran for the go-ahead touchdown with 4:35 to go.

Miami regrouped, and its tying drive was aided by a pass interference penalty on Xavier Rhodes on third-and-14. Williams scored on the next play.

Safety Harrison Smith set up a touchdown when he blitzed and intercepted Tannehill's pass at point-blank range deep in Miami territory. Three plays later, Bridgewater led Greg Jennings perfectly for a 21-yard score and a 14-0 lead.

But the Vikings squandered an early two-touchdown cushion in a loss at Detroit last week, and they couldn't hold their leads against Miami, either. Lamar Miller's 1-yard plunge on third down at the start of the fourth quarter put the Dolphins ahead for the first time.

Notes: Minnesota allowed Miami to convert nine of 13 third downs. ... Safety Robert Blanton had 11 tackles. ... The Vikings haven't won in Miami since 1976.


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