Bridgewater, A.P. find their groove
EDEN PRAIRIE -- The Minnesota Vikings released a deep sigh of relief after Sunday's second game of the season.in the history of Week 2 NFL games. Six days after a 20-3 loss at San Francisco rocked the franchise with the team's thorough ineptitude...
EDEN PRAIRIE - The Minnesota Vikings released a deep sigh of relief after Sunday’s second game of the season.in the history of Week 2 NFL games.
Six days after a 20-3 loss at San Francisco rocked the franchise with the team’s thorough ineptitude, the Vikings returned home to TCF Bank Stadium and beat the Detroit Lions, 26-16, a win made even more important because win they lost both games to that division rival last season.
Admittedly, the Lions are not the same team. Last year’s best defender, Ndamukong Suh, signed with Miami in the offseason. And this year’s best defender, DeAndre Levy, didn’t play because of injury. But none of that diminished the sense of relief in the home locker room.
“I’m really proud of how the team responded,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “I told somebody after last week’s loss that it felt like we were 0-10, not 0-1. We had to really dig down deep and fight and practice and study. We had a lot of grouchy players last week, grouchy coaches. And I thought we answered the bell today.”
You name it and chances are very good that the Vikings were better at it in Week 2.
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was much more poised, completing 14 of 18 passes for 153 yards, one touchdown, no turnovers and a rushing touchdown. Of course, it did help that the line allowed only one sack while protecting the deceptively mobile Bridgewater with several moving pockets.
Running back Adrian Peterson, who had only 10 carries for 31 yards against the 49ers, had seven carries for 45 yards on the first series en-route to 134 yards on 29 carries for the game. He did fumble twice and a third was negated by penalty, but came away happy that he was once again the workhorse back.
“I don’t know if that was actually the game plan, but it was working,” Peterson said. “And I guess if it was working, don’t stop.”
Peterson said he was “hesitant” running the ball out of the shotgun formation in the Week 1 loss at San Francisco. Of course, his rhythm also was disrupted by the fact he carried the ball only 10 times for 31 yards.
Sunday, he had seven carries on the first drive alone and 29 for 134 yards in the entire game. He ran the ball 19 times with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater under center, nine times from the shotgun and one time from the pistol formation (lined up behind Bridgewater in the shotgun).
“It definitely worked out this week,” Peterson said. “We started off out of the ‘I-formation’ and made some big plays. Came back out of the gun and completed some passes, so you got the defense on their heels and they don’t know what to expect.”
Peterson ran 13 times for 101 yards (7.8) with no fullback and Bridgewater under center. He ran six times for 8 yards (1.3) with a fullback and Bridgewater under center, nine times for 27 yards (3.0) out of the shotgun and one time for minus-2 yards when lined up in the pistol formation.
REPORT CARD VS. LIONS
PASSING OFFENSE: (B) - There was nothing fancy, but quarterback Teddy Bridgewater played with the composure he was lacking in Week 1. Of course, it helped that he was sacked only one time while operating in a well-designed game plan that including a moving pocket. Tight end Kyle Rudolph had his first touchdown of the season to cap the opening drive. Bridgewater had only four incompletions in 18 attempts, didn’t turn the ball over and posted a 120.6 passer rating.
RUSHING OFFENSE: (B) - A week after getting only 10 carries, Adrian Peterson got 29 for 134 (4.6). But let’s hold off on giving him and the rushing offense the highest grade. Peterson also fumbled the ball three times, including one time that didn’t count because of a Lions penalty. One of the fumbles was lost, but didn’t result in any points. Jarius Wright gained 29 yards to the Lions’ 6-yard line on a reverse that was timed perfectly to offset a heavy dose of Peterson carries.
PASS DEFENSE: (B) - Cornerback Xavier Rhodes shadowed Lions star receiver Calvin Johnson for the second straight Lions meeting. He did well once again. With Rhodes covering Johnson, Megatron caught seven balls for 62 yards and a touchdown. But he gained only two yards after the catch and the touchdown was a perfect throw and a perfect catch to beat very tight coverage in the front corner of the end zone. Corners Terence Newman and Captain Munnerlyn also played well. Strong safety Andrew Sendejo had a fumble recovery and backup defensive end Justin Trattou somehow handled a point-blank throw from Stafford for an interception.
RUSH DEFENSE: (A+) - Six days after receiving a well-deserved F for giving up 230 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 39 carries (5.9) at San Francisco, the Vikings deserve the highest grade for immediately snuffing out the Lions and their nice mix of running styles in the backfield. Detroit mustered only 38 yards on 16 carries (2.4). No running back topped nine yards. Stafford led the way with 20 yards on four scrambles.
SPECIAL TEAMS: (C) - The slump continues for kicker Blair Walsh, who pushed a PAT wide right. He also missed one at TCF Bank Stadium during a preseason that saw him make only 5 of 11 field goal attempts. Walsh did make his two field goal attempts from 28 and 23 yards. On a positive note, punt returner Marcus Sherels had a slippery 31-yarder down the right sideline to set up a score. Punter Jeff Locke had a 44-yard net with a long of 53 and two inside the 20. The Lions had only one punt return for 2 yards.
COACHING: (A) - By all accounts and results, Mike Zimmer handled the season-opening debacle at San Francisco as well as humanly possible. He was ticked beyond any other point of anger he’s experienced as coach of the Vikings. But he didn’t let the loss fester and affect the Lions game. The players responded with a division win in a game they controlled from start to finish. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner didn’t waste any time getting Peterson heavily involved after the 10-carry mistake in San Francisco. Meanwhile, the run defense did a 180. It was dominant just six days after being humiliated in prime time by the 49ers.