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Bradford Leads Vikings High-Powered Offense in 'MNF' Victory

Posted Sep 11, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS — On a night the Vikings honored Randy Moss, the current Vikings offense threw it back to 1998.

Minnesota racked up 470 yards of total offense behind quarterback Sam Bradford, a higher output than any total from the 2016 season and the second-most offensive yards under Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer.

The result was a 29-19 season-opening win against New Orleans on Monday Night Football that saw the Vikings pick up chunks of yards time and time again.

Zimmer had high praise for his offense after the victory.

“I thought Sam played outstanding tonight,” Zimmer said. “I thought our offensive line played outstanding and the receivers made some great catches.

“All in all, I thought it was a good night offensively,” Zimmer added.

The Vikings honored Moss at halftime by inducting him into the Vikings Ring of Honor, but two current Vikings receivers did Moss proud by scorching the Saints.

Adam Thielen gashed New Orleans with nine catches for 157 yards while Stefon Diggs added seven receptions for 93 yards and a pair of scores.

Diggs, who became the first Vikings player to have two receiving touchdowns in a season opener since Moss in 2004, described the threat that he and Thielen pose together. 

“It’s like a relationship … 50-50. I do something for him and he does something for me,” Diggs said. “We’ve got some real unselfish guys in our room, and everyone wants everyone to win. 

“I want him to get 300 yards,” Diggs added. “I want him to get open and I want to get him open.”

Added Thielen: “I think it’s been something we’ve been waiting to do, open up the playbook and just play football. The coaches did a great job of getting us in the right spots. Sam did a great job of checking. We knew they were going to give us a bunch of different coverages, so we just reacted to what they gave us.”

Bradford, meanwhile, turned in one of the best games of his career, completing 27 of 32 passes for 346 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Bradford also set a career high with a passer rating of 143.0.

“It’s pretty impressive,” Thielen said. “As receivers, we know if we’re open, we’re going to get the ball and it’s going to be at a spot where we can catch and run, so it’s pretty awesome to have a guy like that.

“It makes it easier when you’re running routes because you know if you’re open, you’re getting the ball, and it’s not always like that in this league,” Thielen added.

Added Diggs: “Sam throws some great balls. I just try to run the route and catch the pass. He can sling it.”

The Vikings offense produced four drives of at least 74 yards, notching three touchdowns and a field goal on those possessions.

Perhaps the most lethal drive of the night was when Bradford marched the Vikings 74 yards in three plays, finding Thielen for 35 yards, Jarius Wright for 21 yards and Diggs for an 18-yard touchdown.

“We kind of felt them out in the first quarter and saw some looks we could take advantage of,” Bradford said. “Our guys outside just did a great job of getting open and beating man-to-man coverage and finding soft spots in the zone. We were able to create some explosive plays just based on what we saw early in the game.

“Those couple plays kind of just got us going. The first play is something we had seen the first drive with how they were going to play that personnel grouping,” Bradford later added. “Once that happened, it kind of just opened the door a little bit and kind of opened things up for us.”

Bradford became the second Vikings quarterback to throw for at least 300 yards and three touchdowns in a season opener, joining Tommy Kramer from the 1980 season.

“There was a lot of talk outside of our building, and I know we didn’t play great in the preseason games,” Bradford said. “But we were very confident in the progress that we were making from OTAs to training camp to the way we were playing.

“I’ve had confidence in our guys every day,” Bradford said. “I think we have the capability of doing this on a regular basis.”