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Bradford's Survey of Giants Defense Directed Long Passes to Charles Johnson

Charles Johnson walked to the line of scrimmage on the first play of the second half and had company.

Giants cornerback Trevin Wade was there to play press coverage.

Once Johnson saw the coverage, he thought Sam Bradford might look his way, even though the ball went to the other side of the field when the Vikings practiced the play during the week.

He thought correctly. Bradford liked what he saw and capitalized on the coverage, starting the play by looking at his options to the right side of the formation before he arched the football into Johnson's hands for a 30-yard gain.

"They played a look where they pressed me, and I was pretty sure I was going to get the ball on that play, so Sam threw a nice ball and we made it happen," Johnson said.

Bradford noticed the 1-on-1 matchup between Johnson (6-foot-2) and Wade (5-10), who was starting in place of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Rodgers-Cromartie's first backup, rookie Eli Apple, also wasn't playing, and neither were the Giants first two options at free safety, Nat Berhe and Darian Thompson. The Giants moved strong safety Landon Collins to the line of scrimmage, leaving rookie Andrew Adams to man the back end of the defense at the 40-yard line, 15 yards off the line of scrimmage and at the hash mark closest to Johnson.

Adams dropped to the Norseman logo by the time Bradford threw toward the Vikings sideline and was unable to help Wade contest the throw.

Bradford started the play looking toward his options of Stefon Diggs or Kyle Rudolph on the right side of the play, but quickly decided to accurately loft the ball to Johnson.

Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner explained the explosive gain on first down this week.

"The first play that we threw the fade was really designed to go to the curl, and it has got a built-in deep option if they press it up," Turner explained. "They pressed Charles, so Sam took it, but it's a play that we threw that ball in training camp and threw the fade; it wasn't Sam. So, it's just part of the read of the play, and you like to have some explosive things built in to high-percentage plays if you get the look.

"We got a great look, and C.J. [Charles Johnson] did a great job of blowing by [Wade]. We haven't thrown a lot of deep balls on first and second down, so I'm sure that was part of it, too."

Bradford also connected with Johnson in the fourth quarter on a first-and-10 play that gained 40 yards.

This time, the Giants started the play with both safeties high, 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

Bradford split Wade and Adams with a dart after Johnson faked his way past Wade for a clean release to the inside then worked his way back toward the sideline to keep distance from Adams.

"When I came off, I kind of gave him [a fake], and he kind of took the cheese," Johnson said. "I just went up inside and tried to stay away from the safety because the safety was still high up there. Sam delivered a great ball, a phenomenal throw. Right there, on a line, so I could make another play."

The 40-yard play, Minnesota's third of 40 or more yards this season, set up Jerick McKinnon's 4-yard touchdown run a play later.

"Obviously, any time you can create big plays, explosive pass gains, it always helps an offense," Bradford said. "If we can continue to find those matchups and push the ball down the field, I'm all for it."   

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said the plays show Bradford's confidence and accuracy.

"I think Sam has enough confidence in his abilities that when he sees something he's able to get it there," Zimmer said. "And he's accurate. He's been throwing the ball well. Hopefully that will continue."    

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