Even if there’s every chance he eventually gets injured, as is his wont, or lapses into mediocrity, as is his hallmark, it’s still OK to say it now: Sam Bradford was awesome last night.
Bradford’s good numbers in Minnesota’s 17-14 win over Green Bay—22 of 31 for 286 yards, two touchdowns, and zero turnovers—look even better in light of his expectations. He’s only had the playbook for a couple weeks, gotten just five or six practices in, yet took the field for his Vikings debut and looked like he belonged there, hitting his receivers in stride.
“He was dropping dimes. I don’t know where he got all those dimes from, but he found them,” outside linebacker Anthony Barr said.
Bradford appeared to establish a connection with hypertalented 22-year-old receiver Stefon Diggs, who could be a star in the making but may need a quarterback who can feed him deep down the field. For all the good things about Teddy Bridgewater, he’s been accused of being of being hesitant to air it out. That certainly can’t be said about Bradford, who found Diggs for 46 yards and 25 yards on the Vikings’ go-ahead drive, including the touchdown that was thrown ideally high, where only Diggs could touch it.
Diggs hauled in nine balls for 182 yards, the most ever for one of Bradford’s receivers. Why was there such good chemistry? Diggs joked that his QB “has a locker next to mine, so I guess we spend a little bit more time together than…maybe I would like.”
To make the night even more impressive, Bradford made many of his throws under pressure. The Vikings’ vaunted offensive front frequently collapsed under the Packers’ rush, and Bradford was officially hit 10 times, but either got his throws off or got them away harmlessly.
“That dude is one tough (expletive),” Vikings guard Alex Boone said.
“There was a couple times he got hit – I thought he was dead. He wasn’t moving, so I had to pick him up. I’m like, ‘Sam, don’t be dead.’ Next play: bullet. You’re going, ‘Jesus, this guy’s a beast!’”
It’s still just Sam Bradford, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. And though the team is confident that Adrian Peterson’s knee injury isn’t a serious one, Minnesota’s air attack desperately needs a ground counterpart to be successful. But this was a Vikings team that was supposed to be predicated on defense, and didn’t require a great quarterback to win—just one who was good enough. It’s just one week, but Bradford sure as hell looked as good as the Vikings could have hoped for.