Sam Bradford is a veteran with a good skill set, but his performance Sunday night against Green Bay couldn’t have been much better. Bradford went 22-of-31 for 286 yards and two touchdowns, finished without a turnover, and led the Vikings to a 17-14 over the Green Bay Packers.
“What’s been impressive – and we saw this throughout practice – is how quickly he grasped the offensive system that Norv’s got in place,” Vikings defensive end Brian Robison said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence, referring to offensive coordinator Norv Turner. “(Bradford) came in day one, you could tell he was a little uneasy about things and stuff like that, but immediately within two or three days he was starting to pick things up and he was starting to make plays. We saw that throughout the weeks in practice. For him to go out there and have the game that he had against a division rival – obviously a big stage to jump in on after being here for 15 days – he played great. We had a lot of guys that stepped up and made his job a little easier, so we’ve got to keep doing that moving forward as well.”
Aaron Rodgers, meanwhile, struggled for most of the game. He finished 20-of-36 for 213 yards, one touchdown, one interception and three fumbles (one lost). Eddie Lacy and James Starks didn’t so much in the running game, combining for 19 carries for 53 yards (2.8 yards per carry).
“The first thing we had to do was make sure we didn’t allow their running game to get going,” Robison said. “When they can get their running game going a little bit, it allows them to be more balanced. It opens the playbook up more for them. So we did a good job of playing the run, and then when we got them in those throwing situations, we did a good job of keeping him in the pocket and collapsing the pocket onto him where he just didn’t get the chance to sit back there and pass the ball. We made him antsy in the pocket and was able to get around him and hit him a few times, create some turnovers, create some fumbles. So that was really our gameplan going into it. We had to wreak havoc on him and keep him in the pocket.”
Pressuring and hitting a quarterback, especially Rodgers, is hard enough; not getting flagged for those hits, though, sometimes seems impossible.
“It really is a tough deal,” Robison said. “You have such a short area of where you can hit them. They do a good job of protecting the quarterbacks in this league. You don’t ever want to hit them low, you don’t want to hit them high, but there’s kind of a certain area where you got to hit them. But a lot of it just comes down to just go play ball and hopefully you do everything legally and you don’t do anything wrong. But you can’t let that affect your game. Sometimes things are going to happen when you may hit them a little high or you’re falling and you kind of hit them in the legs or something like that. But I think for the most part, you go out there, you just play ball and hopefully everything works itself out.”
Minnesota (2-0) plays at Carolina (1-1) this Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.