Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12)
runs from Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson
Griffen (97) during the first half of an NFL
football game, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, in
MINNEAPOLIS — Sam Bradford had a
Minnesota debut almost as dazzling as the new $1.1 billion building
itself, completing 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 on Sunday night.
The defense did the rest, sacking Aaron Rodgers five times and
producing two turnovers in the fourth quarter that quashed the
comeback and sent the crowd of 66,813 into a deafening frenzy in
celebration of first regular-season game at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Adrian Peterson limped off in the third quarter with a right knee
injury, and only 19 yards on 12 carries, but the Vikings (2-0)
proved they still have a lot of options. Stefon Diggs caught nine
passes for 182 yards a touchdown. They held the Packers 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.
Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph, left,
celebrates with quarterback Sam Bradford after
catching an 8-yard touchdown pass during the first
Trae Waynes, who had two penalties
himself, intercepted Rodgers 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 aggressively traded two premium draft picks
including next year's first-rounder to Philadelphia to fetch
Bradford after Teddy Bridgewater went down with a massive left knee
injury, boldly eschewed a field goal try early in the second
Bradford found Diggs for a 4-yard completion on fourth-and-1 from
the 18. Then he hit Kyle Rudolph for an 8-yard touchdown pass three
Bradford was hit hard on his non-throwing hand by Packers outside
linebacker Clay Matthews while following through on a pass at one
point during the drive. He visited the locker room briefly for
further examination but never missed a snap, despite significant
swelling beneath his left pinky.
There were only a couple of instances that even hinted of newness
for Bradford and the offense, when one throw on the first drive
sailed well past where Rudolph's route ended and another later in
the first quarter was in the air too quickly for Rudolph to turn
Davante Adams fumbled at his own 13 on Green Bay's first play, a
short completed pass, when Eric Kendricks punched the ball out and
Andrew Sendejo picked it up with an eye toward the end zone. Packers
wide receiver Randall Cobb wrestled him down and stripped the ball
in the process, recovering it himself. Each team was charged with a
turnover because of the change of possession.
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 played their first two regular-season games on the road
for the first time since — wait for it — 1924. They played at the
Duluth Kelleys and Chicago Cardinals that year before returning
Packers: DT Letroy Guion hurt his knee in the second quarter and
Vikings: DE Danielle Hunter hurt his knee in the fourth quarter and
didn't return. DT Tom Johnson left briefly in the third quarter for
concussion evaluation but returned. In addition to Rhodes, the
Vikings played without starting DT Sharrif Floyd (knee).