Teddy Bridgewater is getting his opportunity to start after Matt Cassel suffered broken bones in his foot Sunday. Bridgewater showed composure in his first NFL exposure under difficult circumstances.
The Teddy Bridgewater
era was expected to get started at some point during the season, but few anticipated it would be early in the second quarter of Sunday’s game with New Orleans.
With Christian Ponder
inactive and Matt Cassel
suffering “several” broken bones in his foot, according to head coach Mike Zimmer, on the fourth play of the second quarter, Bridgewater was the only hope the Viking would have at the QB position. The Saints dialed up blitzes all day to put pressure on Bridgewater, but, as debuts go, Bridgewater played pretty well all things considered.
Bridgewater led the Vikings on a scoring drive in his first possession, which included a 41-yard pass to Matt Asiata
and an 8-yard QB draw that gave the Vikings a first down on the Saints 7-yard line.
While his numbers weren’t spectacular – he completed 12 of 20 passes for 150 yards and ran six times for 27 yards, including a pair of kneel-downs at the end of the first half – there were positives that could be taken from the game.
Bridgewater showed excellent poise in the pocket, avoided a couple of would-be sacks with his mobility, and showed some zip on downfield throws – completing a 30-yard strike to Greg Jennings
and a 28-yarder to Cordarrelle Patterson
“I think I did pretty good for the most part,” the low-key rookie said after the game. “I missed a couple throws, a couple easy throws, but it was a good performance, but I’ve got a few things to improve on. … There was a long way to go.”
Bridgewater said he wasn’t nervous, despite being suddenly thrust onto the field in a noisy Superdome environment.
“This is where I always wanted to be. Unfortunately, the way it happened, wasn’t the way that I expected it to,” he said. “But I was able to relax. The guys put their trust in me and they told me nothing changes. The game plan isn’t going to change and we just continue to play football.”
Head coach Mike Zimmer said the game plan was tapered back some, but only because Bridgewater wasn’t getting many reps in practice last week. The backups never do, but they still have to be ready.
“The moment you see the starter limping or he takes a hit, you’re always trying to stay ready,” Bridgewater said. “For me, once I saw Matt was a little slow to get up, my headlights went on and I just told myself to grab my helmet and get ready to play football.”
As the Vikings begin their preparation for Atlanta next Sunday, it’s time for the team to turn the offense over to Bridgewater.
Without Adrian Peterson
, the Vikings are going to need more offensive firepower and Bridgewater showed that, despite not taking many first-team reps during the week of practice and playing in one of the more hostile environments in the league, he accounted pretty well for himself.
“He’ll be ready. I think it will help to go back at home. It will help to get all the reps next week. I think that will be good for him,” Zimmer said.
“I thought he was very composed with everything. You didn’t see any panic. … I believe that he’s going to be very good.”
It is Teddy Time in Minnesota, at least for now.
GAME DAY NOTES
The Vikings had some injuries that changed things up. Aside from Cassel, Chad Greenway was sidelined in the fourth quarter as the rib injury he suffered last week flared up, Kyle Rudolph left with a groin injury, Brandon Fusco left with shoulder injury and Josh Robinson left the game with a hamstring injury.
Fusco was replaced by Vladmir Ducasse, who was penalized for holding and a false start during his short stint.
Saints coach Sean Payton has won 18 straight home games as head coach. He was suspended for all of the 2012 season as part of the Bountygate scandal.
Sunday was an NFL rarity as two head coaches called plays against one another. Mike Zimmer calls the defensive plays for the Vikings, while Payton makes the offensive play calls for the Saints.
The Vikings snapped a NFL record for Drew Brees. Brees had thrown for 300 or more yards in 10 straight home games, tying a record held by Kurt Warner. The Vikings stopped the streak as Brees threw for 293 yards.
While that record being stopped was impressive, it wasn’t due to a lack of trying by Brees. He threw only eight incompletions on the 35 passes he tossed.
Brees completed all nine passes he threw in the game’s first 10 minutes, throwing for 108 yards and a TD. In the final 50 minutes, he completed 18 of 26 passes for 285 yards and one touchdown.
The Vikings struggled to run the ball again Sunday. Matt Asiata ran 12 times for just 35 yards and the Vikings as a team had 32 yards rushing from their quarterbacks and 28 yards from their non-QBs.
Since running for 102 yards in the opener, Cordarrelle Patterson has rushed just once for minus-7 yards in the two games since.
The Saints ran for 108 yards, but it took them 32 carries to get there.
For the second straight week, the Vikings did a solid job of containing a Pro Bowl tight end. After limiting Rob Gronkowski to just 37 yards on three catches last week, Jimmy Graham was held to 54 yards on six receptions.
Greg Jennings took over the team lead in receptions after catching five passes for 70 yards.
Blair Walsh had four kickoffs Sunday and none of them were returned. On 13 kickoffs this year, only one of them has been returned.
Safety Robert Blanton led the team with 10 tackles.
Linebackers Chad Greenway and Anthony Barr combined to have just eight tackles.
The Saints had more than twice as many first downs (27) as the Vikings (13).
The Saints outgained Minnesota 396-247, averaging more than a yard better per offensive snap.
The Vikings averaged just 2.7 yards per rush and New Orleans wasn’t much better, averaging 3.4 yards a carry.
In the first two weeks of the season, only one extra point had been missed. The Vikings doubled that total when Everson Griffen blocked an extra point in the first quarter.
The Vikings didn’t have their first penalty until five minutes remained in the third quarter, but ended the game with more penalties (five for 44 yards) than the Saints (four for 30 yards).
The Vikings got into the red zone twice but had to settle for two field goals. New Orleans got into the red zone three times and scored two TDs.
The Saints had a seven-minute time-of-possession edge, 33:33 to 26:27.
Prior to the last drive of the game, the time of possession was 26:27 for the Vikings and 26:31 for the Saints.
While it may be little consolation, the Saints had an NFL record of 24 games in which they had scored 21 or more points – a streak that was ended by the Vikings Sunday.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.