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Vikings-Cowboys Notebook: Near-perfect Passing

Teddy Bridgewater eyed single coverage on Mike Wallace moments before hitting the bull's-eye.

The second-year quarterback changed the play at the line of scrimmage, taking the play clock nearly to zero, but getting the snap on time.

After coolly handling the less visible aspects of playing the position, he turned the play into a highlight by perfectly leading the speedy offseason acquisition down the sideline for a 39-yard gain.

It was the key play during a drive that ended with a 28-yard field goal by Blair Walsh and the most dazzling offensive snap for the Vikings as Bridgewater kept his hot hand by going 7-of-7 passing for 76 yards in just two possessions of Minnesota's 28-14 win at Dallas.

"It was a great throw," Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said. "It's important for us, I know everybody wants to see Wallace get a bunch of deep throws and so do I, but it's important for us to go through our progressions and make the reads, make the correct throws. That's why his completion percentage was 100 percent, because he continues to do those things. It's not always about throwing the ball to one guy. It's about making the reads, making the correct throws and taking a 4-yard gain as opposed to throwing incompletions."

Zimmer noted that Dallas' defense showed "a bunch of different looks and pressures" by moving corners and safeties up to the line of scrimmage or "bailing."

"Teddy is a good kid. He's smart, he reads coverages good," said Zimmer, before later adding, "I think this was a good test for him tonight."

Bridgewater is 29-of-35 passing (82.9 percent completion rate) for 295 yards and a passer rating of 111.3 in the Vikings four preseason games.

Vikings reserves at the position followed suit, with veteran Shaun Hill going 6-of-8 passing for 50 yards. Hill suffered an interception on his second series while trying to hit rookie Stefon Diggs against eighth-year pro Brandon Carr. He bounced back with a beauty of a toss to Diggs on the next possession for a gain of 18 to set up a 45-yard field goal by Walsh.

Third-string QB Taylor Heinicke was 11-for-11 for 83 yards and led drives that ended with touchdown runs by Dominique Williams in the third quarter and Joe Banyard in the fourth quarter. Mike Kafka was 0-for-1 in limited action.

Vikings passers finished **24-of-27*** *(88.9 percent) for 209 yards.

Flash's dash: Tony Romo and Terrance Williams combined for a 60-yard throw, catch and run for a 60-yard TD, on the first play of the second quarter, but Cordarrelle Patterson (@ceeflashpee84) responded with 107-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that gave the Vikings a 10-7 lead.

"The good thing about Cordarrelle is he continues to work each week," Zimmer said. "When he has the ball in his hands, he can do a lot of things, so he's a good weapon for us to have."

The two long touchdowns occurred within the first 25 seconds of the second quarter.

Miked up: Gerald Hodges started at middle linebacker ("Mike") for the first time Saturday and was replaced by rookie Eric Kendricks when the Vikings shifted to their nickel substitution package.

Hodges and Kendricks each recorded four tackles, according to press box statistics, and Kendricks was mic'd up during the simulcast of the game.

"It looked like (Hodges) did well to me, the things we did," Zimmer said. "He's got physicality, he's fast, it seemed like we got guys lined up in the right place. I think his alignments were right. I thought he did a good job in the passing game from what I could tell."

As for Kendricks, Zimmer said, "I thought he did well too. We played him a lot in the sub groups. Honestly, I didn't notice him very much. I know they weren't very good on third downs tonight, but from what I could tell, he did fine."

The Vikings also brought in Audie Cole, who started the first two preseason games, at middle linebacker near the end of the game and Cole recovered a fumble to set up the Vikings final TD drive.

The kicker's caddy: After battling through windy rainy conditions the week before and missing three field goals and an extra point from the new 33-yard distance, Walsh may have been one of happiest Vikings to move indoors.

He went 2-for-3 on field goals (making from 28 and 45; missing from 43), had two extra points and notched touchbacks on four of his six kickoffs.

Zimmer was asked if he was concerned with Walsh and said, "I'm not really."

"I wish he would have hit them all tonight, but he hit the ball good," Zimmer said. "He kicked off good. He's, like I told him after he missed the one, I said, 'Quit thinking so much and just kick the dang ball.' He said, 'I know.' I said, 'You're too good for that, so just kick it. Quit thinking.' These kickers, they want to fade it to the right and Bubba Watson."

Walsh also was pressed into emergency punting duties while Jeff Locke was being treated for an injury. He cleanly caught the snap and unleashed a 50-yarder, but Dallas was able to return it 40 yards. The Cowboys forced the Vikings to re-punt because of a penalty that went against Kendricks as he and a Cowboys player collided with Locke on the previous snap.

"It was a good kick — could have been a lot worse," Zimmer said.

Locke was able to return to the game and finished with an average of 45.8 that netted 41.0 on four punts, including a long of 55.

Did not dress: Veteran Joe Berger started at center in place of John Sullivan (back spasms). Shamar Stephen, MyCole Pruitt and Carter Bykowski did not dress.

Somber tribute: The Vikings honored Jeramie Gruber, who tragically passed away this week, by wearing a black sticker on their helmets with his initials.

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