EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater's stats have been better against every other team than the Detroit Lions this season by a considerable margin.
The Vikings rookie will have his second shot at an opponent for the first time this season when Minnesota (6-7) visits Detroit (9-4) for an NFC North battle that has been flex-scheduled to 3:25 p.m. (CT) on Fox.
When the teams first meet in Week 6, Bridgewater was making his second career start after missing Week 5 with an ankle injury he suffered in Minnesota's win over Atlanta in his debut in the role. Bridgewater completed 23 of 37 passes for 188 yards but threw three interceptions for a season-low passer rating of 41.3. He was hit 13 times by defenders and took eight sacks, the memories of which linger slightly.
"That's the one thing that stands out," Bridgewater said. "Coach (Mike) Zimmer read some stats to us this morning, I think we probably only converted three third-down conversions, we had three turnovers and we got sacked eight times. We just have to correct those mistakes that we made from the first time we played them.
"They're a very stout defense," Bridgewater added. "Their front-seven, those guys do a great job of applying pressure and getting to the quarterback. We know that it's not going to be easy, but we're up for this challenge."
When asked if it was painful to revisit those stats, Zimmer said, "If we do it again, it'll be painful. I just tell them things we need to do to win, that's all."
Detroit is leading the league in rush yards allowed per game (62.8) and points allowed per game (17.2) and ranks second in total yards allowed per game (295.7).
Zimmer said the Lions secondary has been more aggressive than in years past and benefits from Detroit's active front.
"They're playing more different coverages than what I've seen them play in the past," Zimmer said. "They're much more aggressive in the way that they're playing the coverages as far as covering receivers and it's not so much soft zones, they're on guys pretty close. That combined with the pass rush makes it difficult."
Since that first meeting, however, Bridgewater has continued to show growth and development in the past seven games statistically and in multiple aspects of playing the position. He is 138-of-223 passing for 1,669 yards with 10 touchdown passes against five interceptions for a passer rating of 90.4 in the past seven games. He's also taken 20 sacks combined in those outings.
His yards per attempt (7.5), touchdown percentage (4.5) and interception rate (2.2) in the past seven games were better than the 5.1 yards per attempt and 8.1 percent interception rate against the Lions.
An example of advancing at the position last week was when Bridgewater spotted the Jets planning an "all-out blitz" before the snap, checking into a receiver screen at the line of scrimmage and crisply delivering the ball to Jarius Wright, who delivered an 87-yard game winning touchdown (**click here** to vote for the play as the GMC Never Say Never Moment of the Week).
"I kind of see him growing each week so it's hard for me to say he's come this far in this long," Zimmer said. "I think he's taken a lot of big steps in the last three or four weeks maybe, four weeks, just things that he's doing. He's growing, he continually grows."
Bridgewater has a franchise record five wins so far, including four involving a game-winning or tying drive in the fourth quarter or overtime. He will tie Fran Tarkenton's Vikings record of starts by a rookie (10). **Click here** to vote for Bridgewater for Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week.
"LET'S PLAY HOCKEY": Receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Adam Thielen opened the Minnesota Wild's home game against the New York Islanders Tuesday with the "Let's Play Hockey" pregame announcement. The duo then moved to seats on the glass and saw the Wild's exciting comeback victory.
"I taught him a little bit (about hockey)," Thielen said. "He knows it pretty well though. We've been to a few games together, so he does pretty well with the lingo and knowing the game.
"I'm a basketball player, but growing up in Detroit Lakes, everybody plays pond hockey, so you know the rules and how to play growing up as a young boy," Thielen added. "It was awesome. Those guys are playing their tails off, and it was fun to watch."
Patterson, who is from South Carolina, has bonded with the Minnesota native in their two seasons with the Vikings. **Click here** to read more from Star Tribune's Mark Craig about their relationship.
LATE-SEASON HOMECOMING: Minnesota on Wednesday announced it signed tackle Carter Bykowski, who played high school football at Eden Prairie for Mike Grant, the son of former Vikings Hall of Fame Coach Bud Grant, off San Francisco's practice squad to its active roster.
"My agent called me Monday afternoon, and I was like, 'Yeah, I'm ready. Let's go home,' " Bykowski said. "I'm just coming in here and doing what they tell me to do and trying to get caught up on the offense as fast as I can so, if the need be, I'll be ready for it, so it's a lot of time getting in that playbook and getting adjusted. I haven't talked to Coach (Mike) Grant (since becoming a Viking), but I've talked to his son Ryan that I'm good buddies with."
With only three games remaining this season, Bykowski knows there might not be much opportunity to play in a game, but said there is opportunity to make an impression in "the way you practice, the way you prepare. You try to position yourself for the offseason and work your butt off in the OTAs and position yourself for camp."
PARTICIPATION: For the Vikings: Robert Blanton (ankle/knee), Charlie Johnson (ankle), Jerome Felton (neck), Sharrif Floyd (knee) and Anthony Barr (knee) did not participate Wednesday. Harrison Smith (shoulder) and Everson Griffen (lower back) were limited. Jabari Price (hamstring) fully participated.
For the Lions: RB Reggie Bush (ankle), LB Josh Bynes (illness) and DT Nick Fairley (knee) did not participate. WR Calvin Johnson (ankle) and T LaAdrian Waddle (head) were limited.