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Vikings-Bucs Notebook: Bridgewater, Hill as Torrid as Temp

MINNEAPOLIS — The mercury hit 88.

So did Teddy Bridgewater and Shaun Hill for the Vikings.

Minnesota's first and second string quarterbacks were as torrid as the temperature, completing a combined 15 of 17 passes (88.2 percent) in the first half to build a 14-point lead and help the Vikings defeat the Buccaneers 26-16 on Saturday night at the University of Minnesota.

Bridgewater was 7-of-8 passing for 86 yards and led scoring drives on two of three possessions he was under center. He had a passer rating of 111.5.

"We got off to a fast start, which I said a week ago, that's the mindset," Bridgewater said. "We can't get out there and feel our way around each week. We just have to go out there and let our presence be felt, set the tempo. We did a good job of doing that today."

The Vikings opened with a seven-play drive that included an 18-yard pass to Kyle Rudolph on the first preseason snap in front of the home crowd and a 26-yard gain to Jarius Wright. It ended with a 46-yard field goal by Blair Walsh.

The first-team defense forced a three-and-punt on Tampa Bay's second possession. Marcus Sherels returned it 19 yards to the Bucs 38-yard line.

The Vikings gained 11 yards quickly on the first two plays, then took a shot deep to Wright for a 24-yard gain that set up a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Zach Line.

"The o-line did a great job, and all I saw was purple, so I just rode the wave and got a touchdown," Line said. "It was the easiest one I'll probably ever get."

Hill stepped in to start the second quarter and went 8-of-9 for 104 yards and two touchdowns for a passer rating of 154.4 that approached the NFL max of 158.3.

Hill had a 21-yard touchdown pass that was snagged by Cordarrelle Patterson on a diving grab and found Adam Thielen with room to run on a crossing route. Thielen had room to turn up field and zoom to the end zone.

"We did a lot of great things and the quarterbacks were 8-for-9 and 7-for-8, but when we watch film, there's going to be a lot of mistakes," Patterson said. "We're going to grow from that. It's good now to make mistakes, and when the regular season comes, don't have any mistakes at all."

Thielen, who had two catches for a team-high 54 yards, added: "It's nice when you have a quarterback like Shaun, you can just trust him that if you're open, he's going to get you the ball, so it's easy for me and the receivers to go to the football."

Rude welcome for rookie:The Vikings hosted Jameis Winston, the first overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, and greeted the rookie rudely.

Everson Griffen got in a monster sack — his first of the preseason — of Winston in the pocket, and Gerald Hodges tracked the quarterback from behind for a loss.

Captain Munnerlyn got in a free wallop after a snap sailed over Winston's head, and Antone Exum intercepted the QB and returned it 34 yards to the Tampa Bay 23 to set up a touchdown pass from Shaun Hill to Cordarrelle Patterson.

"It's exciting to be able to turn the field for the team and try to put the offense in position to score," said Exum, who had a 32-yard return of a fumble against the Steelers in the Hall of Fame Game. "I just try to play fast, play hard and make a game-changing play."

Winston finished 9-of-19 passing for 131 yards and a passer rating of 48.4. He did rebound with a 40-yard pass to Vincent Jackson two plays after the sack by Griffen. Winston also scrambled for an 8-yard rushing TD in the second quarter.

Vikings rookie roundup: As for first-year Vikings players, Eric Kendricks recorded a sack, another tackle for loss, a pass breakup and a special teams tackle.

T.J. Clemmings was pressed into action quickly at right tackle after Phil Loadholt left with an injury on the second play of the game.

"I thought he did well," Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said. "It's hard for me to see everything, but I thought we protected well tonight for the quarterbacks."

Stefon Diggs averaged 18.3 yards on three punt returns and had two catches for 26 yards.

Undrafted rookie QB Taylor Heinicke played the entire second half and went 12-of-16 passing for 103 yards and a passer rating of 91.4.

Fumble-itis:The biggest detractor of the night for the Vikings were three fumbles lost: one by Line, one by Joe Banyard and one by Dominique Williams. The Vikings lost two fumbles all of the 2014 season.

Line lamented the fumble more than he celebrated the touchdown.

"Obviously, ball security is the number one thing we do, and I've got to work at it now, so it's good to have a little check sometimes to remind you of the things you've got to work on and stay after," Line said. "That's one of the things I'm going to have a conscious effort to get better at."

Injuries:Loadholt suffered what was initially believed to be an Achilles injury on the second play of the game. Loadholt had worked his way back from a torn pec he suffered last November that cost him the final five games of 2014.

Tackle Carter Bykowski, an Eden Prairie native, suffered a shoulder injury.

Moment of silence: Fans observed a moment of silence before the National Anthem in honor of Bill Zimmer, father of Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and grandfather of linebackers coach Adam Zimmer. Bill Zimmer passed away Tuesday night, and his funeral is scheduled for Monday in Florida.

A moment of silence for Bill Zimmer Sr.

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