Bridgewater, Smith have big days at Pro Bowl

Teddy Bridgewater threw two touchdowns and had a rating of 116.7 at the Pro Bowl while Harrison Smith had an interception.

There were some chuckles among Minnesota Vikings fans over the last week as to how many quarterbacks had to decline invitations to the Pro Bowl before they settled on QB Teddy Bridgewater.

Bridgewater didn’t put up impressive offensive numbers in 2015, but he wasn’t asked to carry the offense. In Sunday’s Pro Bowl, running was typically only done by the team with a big lead, something Team Irvin had throughout much of the game on its way to a 49-27 win over Team Rice.

Bridgewater did his part when he got his limited action for Team Irvin. He completed 6 of 8 passes for 129 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 116.7. In ordinary circumstances, that would put a quarterback in line for the Most Valuable Player. Sunday night, in the increasingly less credible or recognizable Pro Bowl, it ranked him third in passer rating among the three Team Irvin quarterbacks.

Team Irvin riddled the Team Rice defense, completing 20 of 32 passes for 406 yards, seven touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 132.8. When completions average more than 20 yards a pop, poor defense – or in this case, uninterested defense – is an immediate suspect.

Bridgewater’s first pass was a bomb intended for Julio Jones that was intercepted by Marcus Peters, returned 37 yards to the Irvin 26-yard line (it never gets old referring to teams by wide receiver names).

After that, Teddy got his groove on against non-blitzing defenders. He completed four passes for 63 yards – highlighted by a 44-yard bomb to A.J. Green and a 2-yard flip to Darren Sproles for a touchdown.

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On his first drive of the second half, Bridgewater threw just two passes – a 17-yard catch and run by Oakland’s Latavius Murray and a 50-yard TD pass to Jacksonville’s Allen Robinson, helping to pad his solid numbers.

Another Viking had a big game. Safety Harrison Smith intercepted a Tyrod Taylor pass following Bridgewater’s touchdown and, earlier in the game, nearly had a fumble recovery – being a playmaker, he tried to scoop up a teammate’s fumble following one of six Team Rice interceptions, but mistimed the scoop and Team Rice recovered.

Adrian Peterson didn’t do much for Team Rice, rushing five times for four yards. Anthony Barr had three tackles and Everson Griffen had two.

By the end, play-by-play man Mike Tirico was practically apologizing for the two-hand touch rules in place and consistently referenced the necessity of the game (or lack thereof). But, whether or not the Pro Bowl remains in its current state or continues to morph, Bridgewater and Smith had days to remember in their first Pro Bowl experiences.

MONDAY NOTES

  • U.S. Bank Stadium hasn’t even been finished yet, but it already has booked a Super Bowl and a Final Four and Wrestlemania isn’t far behind. Apparently, TwinsFest isn’t taking a backward step in booking The Bank for their annual preseason party. When the Metrodome was open, it was ideal for the Twins’ annual kickoff to pitchers and catchers reporting party. Recently, they’ve been cramped in the weather-neutral rooms at Target Field and attendance has waned. Even though the two venues will have little in common other than being on opposite ends of the downtown tall-building scene, Twins fans will likely get their first look inside The Bank as their fans celebrate the pending 2017 season.
  • The website Stadium Journey came out with its 2015 stadium experience ratings. While far from a scientific study with control and non-control groups rating the fan experience at stadiums, much of the experience revolves around the enjoyment of a game. One can only assume the Metrodome rated low while still open, because TCF Bank Stadium was viewed as an upgrade – except for the Seahawks game. The Interim Bank ranked 21st on the list. Not surprisingly, in the bottom five were O.co Coliseum, Qualcomm Stadium and Edward Jones Dome – the home of the Raiders, Chargers and Rams, all of whom made a desperate land grab to get out of their current digs.


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