Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.
Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.
Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.
Every weekday, our Vikings reporters walk you through what’s happening with the team that day.
WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
— The Vikings racked up 558 yards of offense while winning QB Teddy Bridgewater’s first start.
— Bridgewater left the game with a sprained ankle and isn’t sure if he can start Thursday.
— Fellow first-round pick Anthony Barr also made a major impact in the win.
— The Vikings offensive line bounced back after a pair of poor performances.
— WR Jarius Wright set a couple of career highs in the win.
TWEET OF THE (YESTER)DAY
1st start, 1st touchdown,1st 300 yd passing day, and 1st win! Congrats @teddyb_h2o! Couldn’t be more proud of you and the entire team today!
— Greg Jennings (@GregJennings) September 29, 2014
BEHIND ENEMY LINES
— Former Georgia Southern star Jerick McKinnon gashed the Atlanta defense.
— There is no defending the Falcons defense after yesterday’s performance.
— The Falcons lost three starting offensive linemen in yesterday’s loss.
— The road has not been kind to the Falcons so far this season.
TODAY’S VIKINGS SCHEDULE
The Vikings have little time to enjoy yesterday’s big win. They begin their preparations for Thursday night’s game against the Packers today. Head coach Mike Zimmer is scheduled to be at the podium at 12:15 p.m. and the locker room will be open before the team’s 4:15 p.m. practice.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT
Bridgewater had without a doubt the best first start that a Vikings rookie has ever had. His 19 completions and 98.9 passer rating were records for a Vikings quarterback making his first NFL start. He was also the first quarterback in franchise history to earn a comeback win in his first start.
Vikings rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater isn’t sure about his status for Thursday’s Week 5 matchup against the Packers, but he felt he could’ve returned in the 41-28 victory over the Falcons on Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium.
The Vikings said Bridgewater suffered a sprained ankle and will get an MRI on Sunday. He sprained his ankle in the fourth quarter on a 3rd and goal quarterback sneak from the 2-yard line. He remained in the game on 4th and goal, but Bridgewater was carted to the locker room as quarterback Christian Ponder took the field on the next offensive series.
Bridgewater returned to the sideline after x-rays came back negative and showed no structural damage.
“I’m going to spend as much time as I can with [head athletic trainer] Eric Sugarman and the training staff that we have here,” Bridgewater said. “That will be a decision that they can make.”
Bridgewater said he suffered the injury trying to make a cut and rolled his ankle in a non-contact injury. Ponder finished the game with the Vikings holding a comfortable two-score lead once Bridgewater returned to the sideline.
In his first career start, Bridgewater went 19 of 30 for 317 yards. He also had five carries for 27 yards, including a 13-yard run for his first career NFL touchdown.
“Everything just came naturally as far as the offense and the system that we have here,” Bridgewater said. “The guys did a great job of understanding the terminology and the concepts that we wanted to run today. It’s just a great team effort.”
First of all, Teddy Bridgewater was everything we pretty much said he was capable of being when we did our Sunday story on him today. He keeps a calm head about him and is careful with the ball. That’s two great traits for a rookie making his first NFL start.
However, if I had to hand out an MVP trophy for this one, I’d split it into five parts and give it to the offensive linemen. We all spent the week raising our eyebrows at Matt Kalil and questioning Vladimir Ducasse as a long-term solution at right guard. But the line played so well, that Bridgewater wasn’t sacked and was barely pressured throughout the night. And that fourth-and-goal call at the 1 at the end of the game? That was an easy call because the line was dominating, as evidenced by the 241 yards rushing it had on 44 carries (5.5).
Defensively, there were some concerns about the same old issue of not getting off the field on third down. But when the Falcons went ahead 28-27, the Vikings’ defense shut things down on the top-ranked offense in the league. That was impressive.
As wide receiver Jarius Wright spoke to horde of reporters after the Vikings 41-28 win over the Falcons on Sunday, offensive coordinator Norv Turner swung by, tapped him on the shoulder and walked off.
Turner sits in the coaches box during games and wasn’t able to congratulate Wright on his performance immediately after the game, but the nudge from Turner during the media scrum brought a smile to Wright’s face after a career performance.
Wright had career highs in catches (8) and yards (132), outgaining not only his teammates Cordarrelle Patterson and Greg Jennings, but Falcons wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White. It’s Wright’s first career game with 100 receiving yards and the only receiver to eclipse the century mark.
“I thought about that myself; I was like, ‘You know it took me three years to get this game,” Wright said. “It came for me, and I’m just going to keep building on it.”
Wright said it wasn’t part of the game plan for him to receive 10 targets, but Turner made an adjustment during the first play of the drive to get him more touches. Wright had three catches for 59 yards on the first offensive series. He’s built a rapport with rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who made his first career start. The two served as backups and have received an ample amount of reps together.
“I think it definitely translated out there today,” Wright said. “Teddy knew where to put the ball. In a couple throws, Teddy knew exactly where to put the ball to me, and he knew exactly where I was going to be. I kind of knew where to expect the ball. Our reps together definitely paid off for us. A lot of trust.
Vikings rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater left the game with an ankle injury in the fourth quarter. He is questionable to return.
Quarterback Christian Ponder entered the game with 6:29 left in the game while Bridgewater was carted off in the locker room.
Bridgewater was slow to get up after 3rd and goal at the 2 when he picked up one yard on a quarterback sneak. He remained in the game on 4th and goal when running back Matt Asiata scored a one-yard touchdown to give the Vikings a 35-28 lead. Here’s a look at the play Bridgewater hurt his ankle.
UPDATE: Bridgewater returned to the sideline with 3:30 left. the Vikings said it’s just a sprained ankle while the x-rays were negative and showed no structural damage.
|Oakland - J. Lester||7:07 PM|
|Kansas City - J. Shields|
|Minnesota||10/2/14 7:25 PM|
|Buffalo||10/5/14 12:00 PM|
|Chicago||10/5/14 12:00 PM|
|Cleveland||10/5/14 12:00 PM|
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|Baltimore||10/5/14 12:00 PM|
|Pittsburgh||10/5/14 12:00 PM|
|Arizona||10/5/14 3:05 PM|
|Kansas City||10/5/14 3:25 PM|
|NY Jets||10/5/14 3:25 PM|
|Cincinnati||10/5/14 7:30 PM|
|Seattle||10/6/14 7:30 PM|
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|Utah State||10/3/14 9:15 PM|
|(6) Texas A&M||10/4/14 11:00 AM|
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|(3) Alabama||10/4/14 2:30 PM|
|(11) Ole Miss|
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|(17) Wisconsin||10/4/14 2:30 PM|
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|(7) Baylor||10/4/14 2:30 PM|
|(4) Oklahoma||10/4/14 2:30 PM|
|Wake Forest||10/4/14 2:30 PM|
|(1) Florida State|
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|Oregon State||10/4/14 3:00 PM|
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|(15) LSU||10/4/14 6:00 PM|
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|Miami-Florida||10/4/14 6:30 PM|
|(19) Nebraska||10/4/14 7:00 PM|
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|Winnipeg||10/3/14 6:00 PM|
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|Brt Columbia||10/4/14 6:00 PM|