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.
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.
The Vikings lead the Falcons 24-14 at halftime at TCF Bank Stadium. Kicker Blair Walsh hit a 18-yard field goal with two seconds left to give the Vikings a two-score lead.
The Good: The “Teddy” chants began before rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater stepped on the field. The fans started chanting on fourth down when the Falcons punted on the opening drive, but he’s giving those at TCF Bank Stadium something to cheer about.
After the Vikings went seven quarters without scoring a touchdown, they have three in the first half. He’s 11 of 16 for 197 passing yards and has two carries for 16 yards, including a 13-yard rushing touchdown with 1:59 left in the first half.
The offense has been very productive, beyond Bridgewater. Running back Matt Asiata has two rushing touchdowns, while rookie running back Jerick McKinnon broke out a 55-yard run on his first carry. Wide receiver Jarius Wright also leads the receivers with five catches for 105 yards.
Give credit to the offensive line as well, which has done a good job protecting Bridgewater and creating lanes for McKinnon and Asiata.
The Bad: The only drive the Vikings didn’t score was on a 49-yard field goal kicker Walsh missed with 11:26 left in the first half. He sailed the kick wide right to the west end zone, which is the open end of TCF Bank Stadium. The wide was whipping left to right on the kick to drift the kick no good. Walsh was 5 for 5 before the miss.
The Ugly: The defense has been susceptible of allowing big plays this year, which has been its biggest issue through three games. That continued through the first half again. The Vikings allowed four catches of 20 yards or more during the first half with two occurring on each touchdown drive for the Falcons. They allowed the Falcons to convert on a 3rd and 20 at the Falcons 44. Quarterback Matt Ryan connected with a wide receiver Julio Jones, who was wide open, for 21 yards.
Ryan went 14 of 23 for 141 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Julio Jones has four catches for 50 yards. Roddy White has two catches for 44 yards, including a wide open 24-yard touchdown reception.
Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway (hand/rib) is one seven players inactive on Sunday against the Falcons. It officially snaps his streak of 90 consecutive starts, the longest among active linebackers. Gerald Hodges will replace Greenway in the starting lineup.
Cornerback Josh Robisnon (hamstring), who was listed as questionable, is active. Tight end Rhett Ellison replaces Kyle Rudolph in the starting lineup. Also noteworthy that rookie offensive lineman Austin Wentworth is also active over guard David Yankey.
For the Falcons, wide receiver Roddy White (hamstring) is active while Harry Douglas (foot)is among the seven inactives after participating in practice fully this week.
Here’s the complete list of inactives:
WR Charles Johnson
LB Chad Greenway
LB Brandon Watts
G David Yankey
TE Kyle Rudolph
WR Rodney Smith
DE Scott Crichton
QB Sean Renfree
CB Javier Arenas
LB Tyler Starr
C James Stone
T Ryan Schraeder
WR Harry Douglas
DT Cliff Matthews
|San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner||8||FINAL|
|Pittsburgh - LP: E. Volquez||0|
|Buffalo||10/5/14 12:00 PM|
|Chicago||10/5/14 12:00 PM|
|Cleveland||10/5/14 12:00 PM|
|St. Louis||10/5/14 12:00 PM|
|Atlanta||10/5/14 12:00 PM|
|Tampa Bay||10/5/14 12:00 PM|
|Houston||10/5/14 12:00 PM|
|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|
|Fla Atlantic||6:00 PM|
|Louisville||10/3/14 6:00 PM|
|San Diego St||10/3/14 9:00 PM|
|Utah State||10/3/14 9:15 PM|
|(6) Texas A&M||10/4/14 11:00 AM|
|(12) Miss State|
|Ball State||10/4/14 11:00 AM|
|Iowa State||10/4/14 11:00 AM|
|(21) Oklahoma State|
|Marshall||10/4/14 11:00 AM|
|Southern Miss||10/4/14 11:00 AM|
|(20) Ohio State||10/4/14 11:00 AM|
|Purdue||10/4/14 11:00 AM|
|Florida||10/4/14 11:00 AM|
|SMU||10/4/14 11:00 AM|
|(22) East Carolina|
|Virginia Tech||10/4/14 11:30 AM|
|Eastern Mich||10/4/14 1:00 PM|
|North Texas||10/4/14 1:30 PM|
|Massachusetts||10/4/14 1:30 PM|
|Tulsa||10/4/14 2:00 PM|
|New Mexico||10/4/14 2:30 PM|
|(3) Alabama||10/4/14 2:30 PM|
|(11) Ole Miss|
|(14) Stanford||10/4/14 2:30 PM|
|(9) Notre Dame|
|(17) Wisconsin||10/4/14 2:30 PM|
|Navy||10/4/14 2:30 PM|
|(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|
|NC State||10/4/14 2:30 PM|
|Buffalo||10/4/14 2:30 PM|
|Ohio U||10/4/14 2:30 PM|
|Oregon State||10/4/14 3:00 PM|
|Vanderbilt||10/4/14 3:00 PM|
|Kansas||10/4/14 3:00 PM|
|Kent State||10/4/14 4:00 PM|
|South Alabama||10/4/14 5:00 PM|
|Texas-El Paso||10/4/14 6:00 PM|
|(15) LSU||10/4/14 6:00 PM|
|UAB||10/4/14 6:00 PM|
|Texas Tech||10/4/14 6:00 PM|
|(23) Kansas State|
|Michigan||10/4/14 6:00 PM|
|Hawaii||10/4/14 6:00 PM|
|Toledo||10/4/14 6:00 PM|
|ULM||10/4/14 6:00 PM|
|Georgia State||10/4/14 6:00 PM|
|Idaho||10/4/14 6:00 PM|
|Memphis||10/4/14 6:00 PM|
|Arizona State||10/4/14 6:30 PM|
|So Carolina||10/4/14 6:30 PM|
|Pittsburgh||10/4/14 6:30 PM|
|Miami-Florida||10/4/14 6:30 PM|
|(19) Nebraska||10/4/14 7:00 PM|
|(10) Michigan State|
|UNLV||10/4/14 7:00 PM|
|San Jose St|
|Ga Southern||10/4/14 7:00 PM|
|New Mexico St|
|California||10/4/14 9:30 PM|
|Utah||10/4/14 9:30 PM|
|Boise State||10/4/14 9:30 PM|
|Winnipeg||10/3/14 6:00 PM|
|Calgary||10/3/14 9:00 PM|
|Edmonton||10/4/14 3:00 PM|
|Brt Columbia||10/4/14 6:00 PM|
|Hamilton||10/10/14 6:00 PM|
|Ottawa||10/11/14 9:00 PM|