MINNEAPOLIS | One quarterback played outstanding on Sunday night in Minnesota. It was not Aaron Rodgers. Instead it was Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford who had a spectacular debut in front of the home Vikings as the team opened its new $1.1 billion stadium. Bradford completed 22 of 30 passes for 286 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers to lead the Vikings to a 17-14 victory over the Green Bay Packers just 15 days after he arrived in a trade.
The Minnesota defense did its part too, sacking Aaron Rodgers five times and forcing two fourth-quarter turnovers. After the game Rodgers tried to downplay the loss.
“I don’t think this is anything to get super crazy about,” Rodgers said. “It’s a tough opponent, a division opponent. They’re a good football team. They’ve still got to come to our place later in the season. Hopefully we’re in a position to play for something then.”
The Packers held running back Adrian Peterson to just 19 yards on 12 carries before he limped off in the third quarter with a right knee injury. Peterson, who was on crutches after the game and wearing a brace on his right leg, will have an MRI exam on Monday. Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said he was told the injury had already “calmed down” afterward and that he might miss a week.
But the Vikings got it done through the air as Bradford connected with wide Stefon Diggs nine times for 182 yards a touchdown. The Vikings (2-0) held the Packers (1-1) to 65 total yards in the first half, withstanding an early touchdown pass by Rodgers to Jordy Nelson on a drive aided by two penalties by cornerback Terence Newman.
Trae Waynes, who had two penalties himself, intercepted Rodgers’ pass in Vikings territory in the closing minutes to seal the victory. The previous drive was killed when Brian Robison knocked the ball out of the hands of Rodgers, who ran for 29 yards and a touchdown. He began to find a groove throwing the ball late, but Bradford was the better quarterback on this night.
The Vikings, who scored two defensive touchdowns in their season opener at Tennessee , could have had more takeaways. Rodgers fumbled at his own 12 on the last play from scrimmage of the first quarter, but J.C. Tretter fell on it. Everson Griffen knocked the ball out the hand of a scrambling Rodgers in the third quarter, but Captain Munnerlyn whiffed on his pickup attempt. Newman dropped an interception at the goal line in the fourth quarter, two plays before Rodgers ran in for the score.
The Packers scored first when Aaron Rodgers connected with Jordy Nelson for Nelson’s second touchdown in as many weeks. On 2nd and goal from the one, Rodgers rolled to his left and hit Nelson in the left corner of the end zone. But Sam Bradford connected with Kyle Rudolph on an 8-yard score and led Minnesota on a late 2nd uarter field goal drive. The Vikings took a 10-7 lead into the locker room and now have a ten point lead at the start of the 4th quarter.
The Packers could have tied the game at 10 but elected to go for it on 4th and 2 from the 13. James Starks was stuffed after one yard as the Packers turned it over on downs. After the game Packers head coach Mike McCarthy defended his decision to go for it. “We were on a 12 play drive,” said McCarthy. “Felt the advantage was to the offense in that situation. That’s my decision.”
After playing their first two games on the road the Packers now return to Lambeau Field for four straight games starting next Sunday against the Lions at noon.
As for Packers injuries, DT Letroy Guion hurt his knee in the second quarter and didn’t return. Safety Morgan Burnett also had a hamstring injury and did not return.