Sam Bradford had quite the game last night in Minnesota's 17-14 takedown of Green Bay.
Peter King wrote about Bradford's storybook beginning in his Monday Morning Quarterback column, reminding readers that Bradford was traded to the Vikings fewer than three weeks ago. King said the series of events leading to Bradford's arrival was unique enough, let alone his first game starting in purple.
Could you have ever figured the next part [of the story]? That Bradford would have his best game as a pro — his only game in his 64 NFL games completing at least 70 percent of his throws, for at least 250 yards, with a rating above 120, and winning — in his first start for his third team?
King said leading the Vikings in their season opener against the division-rival Packers was a high-pressure situation, but Bradford stepped up to the plate.
The 28-year-old quarterback finished the game 22-of-31 passing for 286 yards and two touchdowns. He set a franchise record (previously held by Fran Tarkenton with 250) for most passing yards in a quarterback's first game as a Viking, and his pair of touchdown passes tied with Matt Cassel for second place behind Tarkenton, who attended the game.
"Did I expect it to go like this? Probably not," Bradford told King over the phone Sunday night. "But I just approached it the way I've been approaching things since I got here — one day at a time. Show up every day trying to learn as much as I can."
Bradford looked precisely like the quarterback the Rams drafted in 2010, the quarterback who was supposed to command the huddle, throw accurately downfield, not get overwhelmed by big moments, and lead a team to a win over a Super Bowl contender.
Vikings 'early standouts' after Week 2 defeat of Packers
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer told media following Sunday night's game that his players were fighters.
NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal agrees.
Despite playing their first game under Bradford and losing Adrian Peterson partway through the game to an injury, the Vikings battled it out and came away with a win over Green Bay. Rosenthal said the Vikings performances in Week 1 and Week 2 make them "early season standouts."
Rosenthal said Minnesota is a team fans can rally behind.
Their defense comes at teams with waves of pressure and effort. If Linval Joseph and Everson Griffen don't hit you, Brian Robison or Anthony Barr will. Their secondary forced Aaron Rodgers to hold the ball and improvise too often, leading to three fumbles and a disjointed offense.
Many of these themes were similar late last season when the Vikings stole a division title that has often felt like Rodgers' birthright. Minnesota is missing some big names this time around, but they won't go away easily.
Bradford's impressive night against the Packers helped the Vikings be the lone leader of the NFC North and one of only seven teams that have started their seasons 2-0.
Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune wrote about Bradford's performance and pointed out that he's not the first "new Viking" to have a big game against Green Bay. Souhan wrote:
Randy Moss announced his intentions on a rainy night in Lambeau Field during his rookie season. Herschel Walker threw a shoe and parted the Packers defense in his first game after the fateful trade to Minnesota. Brett Favre's first game against the Packers may have ranked as the best he ever played.
Although some questioned Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman were trading a 2017 first-round draft pick in order to get Bradford from Philadelphia, Souhan said, "for good NFL teams the future resides in the present, and Bradford just made the present eminently more intriguing."
Bradford sealed Minnesota's win on the last play of the game, when he took the snap on fourth-and-3 and purposefully aired out a pass that allowed time to expire.
[He] then continued to the Vikings sideline, where he began throwing high-fives. He found Zimmer, and the two hugged at the end of a night neither could have imagined a month ago, and that few present in the new purple shrine will soon forget.