The Minnesota Vikings opened their new stadium with a huge 17-14 win over the rival Green Bay Packers. And it’s only two weeks, but even without Teddy Bridgewater, it’s looking like the NFC North might be going through Minneapolis.
They might not be able to get much going offensively, but they may not have to. Not with that defense. A defense that harassed Aaron Rodgers all night and held the Packers to just 263 total yards.
More incredibly, that was Big Bad Sam Bradford outgunning Rodgers, throwing for 286 yards and two touchdowns and zero interceptions, connecting nine times with Stefon Diggs for 182 yards and the game-winning touchdown.
A week after failing to score an offensive touchdown against Tennessee with Shaun Hill under center, the Vikings rode the arm of Bradford to a win over their division foe. And for a week, at least, the move to give up a first-rounder and another pick in the future made a ton of sense for a Vikings team that has a championship-level defense and now a competent quarterback at the helm to replace the injured Teddy Bridgewater. And not only was Bradford slinging it around the joint, he did so after injuring his hand early. Was anyone, anywhere surprised he left the game with an injury: there’s no surprise the guy got hurt; the surprise was that it didn’t happen even sooner; in this case, in the first half of the first game. So Bradford manned the hell up; and safe to say that was one of the finer moments of his entire career; coming in and beating Green Bay on short notice and doing it with a jacked up hand.
But the win doesn’t come without a price. Now the Vikings hold their breath and wait to see what an MRI tells Adrian Peterson. Peterson went down in the second half with a knee injury — and it didn’t look good. Nor did the Vikings rushing attack even before he went down, the Packers dominating in the trenches and holding the rushing champ to just 19 yards on 12 carries.
Mike Zimmer said Adrian Peterson would have MRI today, but injury may not be as bad as first feared: “Whatever it was, it calmed down now.”
It’s early, but a tremendous job by Mike Zimmer for keeping his team together after Bridgewater’s knee exploded in a non-contact drill. They could have just shut it down in that moment, but Zimmer wouldn’t let them. And tremendous stones by GM Rick Spielman, for going out and getting a quarterback to possibly salvage the season, and by Bradford — who had essentially two weeks of practice to learn another offense, a new system and go out and beat the Packers.
That said, and as huge a win as it was, it’s just one game. They didn’t just win the Super Bowl. And if they’re going to have any shot at sniffing one, they’re going to need to keep Bradford upright. Because Minnesota spent a whole lotta jack to rebuild their offensive line. And two weeks in, it’s a mess. Bradford took a handful of huge hits Sunday night from the Packers D… Their defense is Super Bowl caliber, but they’re not getting there on the defense alone. They have to keep Bradford clean.
As for now, Huge win for Mike Zimmer. Big step out front in the NFC North for the Vikings. And that roll of the dice to bet on winning now sure looks great.