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Last season Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford played mostly a safe game. When in doubt, check it down. You’re going to get only so far playing that way.
That Bradford was nowhere to be found on Monday night. Bradford pushed the ball downfield and found open receivers all night. He became the first Vikings quarterback since 1981 to post 300 yards in a season opener as Minnesota pounded the New Orleans Saints 29-19.
It’s hard to say if this is what we’ll see out of Bradford all season, considering the Saints play defense like they’re in the Big 12, but Bradford seemed to have a much different approach in the season opener. He had eight completions of 20 yards or more. He finished 27-of-32 for 346 yards and three touchdowns.
Maybe the NFC North race will be a little more interesting than everyone figured.
The Vikings have had a good defense for a few years. There are blue-chip players at every level, and it showed against the Saints. It’s tough to shut down a Drew Brees offense, but the Vikings made Brees look average on Monday night. The Saints didn’t score a touchdown until late in the fourth quarter after the Vikings had a huge lead.
If Minnesota’s offense can come around, the Vikings can take the next step. All the signs were good. The offensive line played much better than last season. Upgrading the line was a major priority over the offseason. Rookie Dalvin Cook gave the Vikings a running game, something they didn’t have last season after Peterson’s Week 2 knee injury. And Bradford played very well.
Last season Bradford was traded to Minnesota a week before the season. Then during the season, offensive coordinator Norv Turner quit. Bradford played behind a bad line. He did pretty well last season, considering the circumstances. But he needs to be better this year for the Vikings to challenge the Packers for the division crown, and he looked improved in the season opener. The Vikings started fast with Bradford last season, starting 5-0 before falling to 8-8, but the foundation seems stronger this season.
Bradford has flashed his talent before. Now it’s time to see if he can maintain this level of play all season.
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