Photo - Hannah Foslien (Getty Images)
By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Minneapolis, MN - It was as exciting as the fourth quarter of a second preseason game could possibly be. With 1:11 left on the clock and his team down 28-24, rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater took to the field and orchestrated a game-winning drive that Vikings fans are unlikely to forget any time soon.
Bridgewater Bounces Back…
We might as well start here. Is it too early to start calling him “Touchdown Teddy”, or “Two Minute Teddy” or how about “Teddy Comeback” at the NFL level yet? Sure it was a preseason game and sure it was against the Cardinals second and third team defenders, but we may have seen a little glimpse into the future of Minnesota Vikings football tonight and it looked good!
Watching Teddy Bridgewater go 75 yards in 7 plays and :53 for a go-ahead touchdown was sweet! After Matt Cassel saw extended time throughout the entire first-half of play, Teddy took over in the third quarter and did exactly what we needed him to do. He found a groove.
The rookie’s first NFL action one week ago against the Raiders was a little shaky. Admittedly, Teddy had some butterflies and it showed on the field. What we saw Saturday night against the Cardinals was something completely different. We saw a young man stand strong in the pocket. We saw him throwing confidently. We saw him finish his night 16/20 passing for 177 yards, 2 TDs and 0 INT. A passer rating of 136.9, and we all LOVED IT!
Teddy still found himself from time-to-time with happy feet and had a stretch of two or three passes in a row where he leaned on his dump down options a little heavy, but overall he made good decisions and he made the throws.
Cassel Continues to Be Comfortable…
While Teddy provided the late game heroics, Matt Cassel followed up his solid performance against the Raiders with an equally impressive performance against the Cardinals in extended action.
Matt played the entirety of the first half on Saturday night and filled the state book with 12/16 passing for 153 yards and a TD (passer rating of 125.3). What was most important from Matt was seeing him come out again, against a different team, with different pieces of the offense at his disposal and continuing to feel good. Matt looks to be at home in this Norv Turner offense and even looks like a different player from who he was last year.
“I felt comfortable tonight,” Cassel said following the game. “I thought guys did a tremendous job all night making plays. The offensive line did a great job against a great front.”
Despite what the fans might be chanting throughout the stadium late in games (“Ted-dy! Ted-dy! Ted-dy), Matt Cassel should be this teams starter week one against the Rams. Teddy has made some great strides and fans should be excited about what they might have, but realistically Matt has looked better and he’s given this team the best chance to win through what we’ve seen in two preseason games.
Kyle Rudolph Paying Dividends Early…
Time and time again we see it. Big name professional athlete gets a new contract and sits back on his security, performing at a sub-standard level and disappointing fans and coaches alike. I don’t think that’s going to be the case for Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph.
Rudy finished the night last night with 5 catches for 89 yards and 1 TD, although it should have been 2 TDs as one went off his fingertips in the end zone. Those numbers added with his brief showing in the first game, put Kyle at 6 catches, 111 yards and a TD in the preseason.
“I love the way he works,” Zimmer said of Rudolph. “He came to me when he was out first half and said, ‘That guy upstairs is a genius!’ He was talking about Norv.”
Kyle cut ten pounds in the off-season and is showing his increased speed and body control on a very regular basis early. With an offensive coordinator making the right calls and a quarterback getting him the ball, Rudy is in line for a big season this year.
“Mixed Bag” Performance at Strong Safety
It will likely continue up through the end of the preseason, but the Vikings battle for strong safety didn’t take any huge steps forward last night.
“I thought they all did some good things as far as the safety spot,” Coach Zimmer said after the game. “I didn’t notice [Chris] Crocker all that much. Jamarca [Sanford] had some good plays, had a couple of bad plays. [Andrew] Sendejo, same thing. It was a little bit of a mixed bag.”
The position continues to be one of concern as no single player has stepped up to take the reins since Blanton’s injury sidelined him weeks ago.