The Minnesota Vikings have had a carousel at quarterback for the last few years: at the most important position on the field, the team has been unable to find consistency. This year has already seen three quarterbacks playing all or part of a game, but yesterday’s first career start for rookie Teddy Bridgewater gave Vikings fans a glimpse of something potentially great. On Twitter, Rick Gosselin noted that Bridgewater is only the fourth quarterback to record 300 passing yards and win his first NFL start since 1980.
Despite the margin of win, yesterday’s game was much closer than it needed to be because the Vikings defence was unable to get off the field on third down far too often, and communication breakdowns in the defensive secondary led to big plays for Atlanta. After a good series to start the game, the Vikings seemed to lose focus and Atlanta’s receivers were open too easily — fortunately for the Vikings, several passes were dropped or the score might well have been reversed.
Dan Zinski posted his immediate reaction to the game at The Viking Age:
Nothing good can come the Vikings’ way without some kind of negative note sneaking in there. The Vikings beat up the Falcons on the scoreboard 41-28 Sunday, but there were plenty of negative notes.
The biggest, ugliest negative was the injury to Teddy Bridgewater. The rookie QB was having a very strong day when he hurt his ankle on a run and was forced to leave the field on a cart.
The good news is that x-rays came back negative and Bridgewater is reported to only be suffering from a sprain. Still, the sight of Christian Ponder finishing out the game at QB did not exactly do a lot to inspire happiness in fans.
Thankfully the Vikings were well in control of the game by the time Ponder was forced to come in. Things didn’t look so rosy earlier when the Falcons were tearing up the Vikings’ defense and scoring seemingly at will.
Huge defensive breakdowns plagued the Vikings throughout the first half and third quarter. Captain Munnerlyn and Robert Blanton were primary offenders as the Falcons rolled up 28 points on Mike Zimmer’s D.
Bridgewater’s favourite target in the passing game was Jarius Wright (who had his first 100-yard receiving game), while running back Jerick McKinnon (first 100-yard rushing game) did most of the damage on the ground: the three are familiar with one another from the time they spent working together on the second team. In general, the Vikings got very good results from their reserves in this game: not that the injured starters weren’t missed, but the team showed it still has good depth.
At the Daily Norseman, Christopher Gates heaves a sigh of relief:
As fans of the Minnesota Vikings, the last two or three weeks … well, it’s been pretty rough in the land of the purple and gold. Between having to keep up with the injury list and having to, seemingly, keep one eye on the police blotter, it has been a pretty big downer.
And I don’t know about you all, but starting at about 3:30 Central time on Sunday afternoon … I forgot all about all of that. Every damn bit of it. I forgot about Adrian Peterson’s ongoing situation. I forgot all about Kyle Rudolph and Brandon Fusco and Matt Cassel being injured. I forgot about the fact that, in their previous seven quarters of football, this team had scored all of nine points.
The reason I forgot all about those things is because, early on in Minnesota’s game against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday afternoon, I had the calming realization that this team is going to be just fine.
This team put together one of the most impressive offensive performances that we’ve seen around these parts in a while, and it was put together, largely, by guys who are barely old enough to have a drink after the game. We finally got to see some repetitions for running back Jerick McKinnon, and he responded by racking up 153 total yards on 18 touches, including a 55-yard run that was incredible to watch.