Bridgewater holds his own in 1st meeting with Packers
Teddy Bridgewater's bid to join the list of rookie quarterbacks who have beaten the Packers came up short Sunday.
While far from outstanding, the play of Bridgewater was good enough to keep the Vikings hanging around. Only a clock-draining drive by the Packers prevented the youngster from building off a late score that had made real the possibility of an upset.
After scoring more than 50 points in back-to-back games, Green Bay returned to earth for a division showdown with the Vikings. Its 24-21 victory in the open air of TCF Bank Stadium was more in line with the hard-fought battles routinely waged in Minnesota in the days before a dome than with the high-flying affairs that dot the NFL landscape these days.
In taking the field, Bridgewater joined a select group. He became the 35th rookie to start at quarterback against the Packers since the 1970 merger.
Some — Archie Manning, Troy Aikman and Matthew Stafford — are familiar to many. Others — Rick Arrington, Tom Owen and Kim McQuilken — have been all but forgotten in the intervening years.
Like all newcomers, Bridgewater seeks to make a name for himself. Had his Vikings defeated the Packers, he would have become just the 13th rookie quarterback to beat the Green and Gold in the last 45 years.
Bridgewater's numbers were nothing out of the ordinary. He completed 21 of 37 throws for 210 yards with two touchdown passes and one interception for a passer rating of 79.8.
He didn't make a splash as Cam Newton did with 432 yards in Carolina's 30-23 loss to the Packers in 2011. He didn't compile a near-perfect passer rating of 149.6 as Charlie Batch did in leading the Lions to a 27-20 victory over Green Bay in 1998.
What he did was direct the Vikings to 308 yards of offense and 20 first downs. He utilized seven receivers in turning four of Minnesota's last seven possessions into scoring drives.
Bridgewater displayed a nice touch on a 22-yard TD strike to receiver Charles Johnson to tie the game 7-7 early in the second quarter. Minutes later, he showed his inexperience on an ill-advised heave that was intercepted by Micah Hyde.
The athletic quarterback used his feet as well as his arm. He scrambled five times for 32 yards, with four of the gains coming on scoring drives.
Bridgewater was high with many of his early throws. Facing third down for the first time, he overshot Johnson for what would have been a first down.
But his receivers also let him down. Johnson dropped one early in the second quarter, then failed to come up with another that would have brought a first-and-goal from the 8-yard line in the third quarter.
On the next play, Blair Walsh kicked a 51-yard field goal to cut Green Bay's lead to 14-13.
Bridgewater didn't do much on third down. He completed two of six passes for 16 yards with both completions moving the chains.
Minnesota was 5-of-13 (38 percent) on third down.
Say what you will about Bridgewater, he didn't flinch with his team down 24-13 with 8 minutes, 34 seconds to go. In 13 plays, he moved the Vikings 79 yards to pay dirt.
Bridgewater completed eight of 10 passes for 69 yards on the advance. His 5-yard TD to Greg Jennings and subsequent throw to Johnson for a two-point conversion closed the gap to 24-21 with 3:23 remaining.
The opportunity was the last for Bridgewater. Eddie Lacy ripped off 27 yards on five runs and Aaron Rodgers twice took a knee to end the game.
■ Bridgewater became the 10th rookie to open at quarterback against Mike McCarthy's Packers. Four — Matt Ryan (2008), Josh Freeman (2009), Russell Wilson (2012) and Andrew Luck (2012) — came up winners.
■ Bridgewater is the fourth Vikings rookie to start at quarterback against Green Bay. The first three were Fran Tarkenton (1961), Tarvaris Jackson (2006) and Christian Ponder (2011).
Since 1970, the 10 rookie quarterbacks with the highest passer rating against the Packers in a regular-season game (minimum 15 attempts).
Oct. 15, 1998
Nov. 13, 1988
Sept. 24, 2012
Oct. 5, 2008
Nov. 8, 2009
Dec. 19, 1982
Oct. 7, 2012
Nov. 23, 2014
Oct. 8, 1989
Sept. 18, 2011