MINNEAPOLIS –Sam Bradford has only been part of the NFC North for 15-plus days, but it didn't make Sunday's Border Battle victory any less fun.
"It was awesome," Bradford said after the Vikings 17-14 win over the Packers. "That's one of the best atmospheres I've probably ever played in […] this building was rocking.
Click here to watch a replay of the Vikings first-ever regular season victory over the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium with NFL Game Pass.
"Our fans were tremendous," Bradford added. "It's fun when you get to play in atmospheres like that; it's not an every-week thing. You don't get to play in front of crowds like that all the time, so when you do, it's really special."
Bradford made it easy for the U.S. Bank Stadium crowd to offer him a Minnesota-nice welcome.
In his first start for the Vikings, Bradford finished 22-of-31 for 286 yards, two touchdowns and a passer rating of 121.2. 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.
"I was impressed with pretty much everything he did tonight," Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said of Bradford. "I thought he had great composure. I thought he had good control of things."
Bradford connected with second-year receiver Stefon Diggs nine times for 182 yards – including a pair of 40-plus-yard plays – and a touchdown.
"I mean, he just got open time and time again," Bradford said. "Made a lot of good, big plays for us tonight."
When Bradford arrived in Minnesota and dove headfirst into the playbook and film room, he said Diggs immediately caught his eye.
"He's just kind of one of those guys," Bradford said. "He just kind of popped. You just kind of notice him. He's always getting separation, he seems to always be finding a way to get open."
Conversely, Diggs has been just as impressed with Bradford, who's had to learn a number of different offenses as he enters his seventh season. In their time spent practicing together, Diggs said he and Bradford built a fast trust.
"He's a smart guy – he picked up the offense pretty fast," Diggs said. "Going in, I had faith in him. I knew he could do all those things, so it was just about getting on the same page.
"He's a great quarterback," Diggs added. "He comes to play. We executed the game plan, and we got it done."
As difficult as it was for the Vikings to lose Teddy Bridgewater to a season-ending knee injury, Diggs said Bradford's calm demeanor on the field reminded him a little bit of Bridgewater.
"He's a very poised guy," Diggs said. "He's not going to smile too much, but in the huddle toward the end he said, 'Let's go finish.' "
Both Kyle Rudolph and Chad Greenway also used the word "poised" when referring to Bradford. Greenway, in his 11th season for the Vikings, said Bradford has earned a tremendous amount of respect from the team in the short time he's been here.
"Sam did great," Greenway said. "He made so many great throws under pressure and getting hit, showed a lot of toughness."
During the game, Bradford sustained four sacks by Green Bay and was hit an additional 10 times. Rudolph said he was incredibly impressed with the consistency and productivity Bradford showed despite facing pressure.
"On two weeks preparation, to go out there and play the way he did tonight – taking hit after hit, he just stayed there and kept throwing the ball downfield. Unbelievable," Rudolph said. "He just made great decisions all night long."
The first regular-season score by the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium was an 8-yard touchdown pass from Bradford to Rudolph early in the second quarter. Rudolph gave the touchdown ball to Bradford following the play.
"It meant a lot," Bradford said. "It was cool for him to do that for me."
Rudolph isn't the only one who's rallied behind Bradford. In blue-collar Vikings fashion, it's been a team effort.
"He's our quarterback now, and he's one of us," Greenway said. "He's definitely going to be a great player for us."
Bradford said he couldn't be more grateful to have the support of the team when he stepped in to fill Bridgewater's cleats.
"I think any time you join a new locker room, it's not easy at first," Bradford said. "These guys have had my back from day one. They've been super supportive of me."
He added: "I just wanted to come out and play well for them tonight."