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Bleacher Report – Vikings

No running game? No problem: Diggs and Bradford prove they can lead the Vikings offense

By Matthew Coller

After his 182-yard performance on Sunday Night Football, Stefon Diggs was quick to point out that N’Sync is just a band and not how he would describe the first time he and Sam Bradford. His game said otherwise.

In the Minnesota Vikings’ 17-14 win over the Green Bay Packers, Diggs proved to be the best wide receiver Bradford has ever had. He also showed the national TV audience that – for the first time since Randy Moss – a wide receiver is now the centerpiece of the Vikings’ offense.

“I wouldn’t say ‘in sync’ I don’t know too much about N’Sync [except] the band, but [Bradford] does everything the right way,” Diggs said. “He works hard, he comes in every day an we communicate. To get on the same page, you have to communicate. Throughout practice and games, he tells me what he sees, I tell him what I see and we try to make it work.”

Not only did he make a spectacular touchdown catch that turned out to be the game-winning score, but offensive coordinator Norv Turner called for a pass play toward Diggs on third down with 1:40 seconds remaining and the Packers out of timeouts. A pass interference call on Green Bay essentially ended the game. There is no bigger sign of confidence than that.

Diggs got open in every way possible against the Packers, finding holes in zones, turning short passes into long gains and going deep. He caught a 44-yard pass from Bradford on the team’s final drive of the first half that led to a Blair Walsh field goal.

Indicative of his mentality, Diggs’ first comment after the game was not about his nine catches on 11 targets, it was about an unsportsmanlike penalty he took in the fourth quarter.

“That won’t happen again,” he said.

The offense needed their No. 1 receiver to have a huge game considering Adrian Peterson’s struggles and subsequent injury. Peterson ran for just 19 yards on 11 carries before suffering a knee injury that left him on crutches after the game. Bradford’s other weapons were occasionally effective, but he only completed 3-of-8 toward Kyle Rudolph and 2-for-2 for just 15 yards in Charles Johnson’s direction. Bradford simply kept going to Diggs and Diggs kept coming through.

“You have to make the plays when they come your way and show [Bradford] that you’ll do it for him,” he said.

He’s been showing that he will come through for quarterbacks for awhile now. After sitting the first three games last season, he posted 52 catches and emerged as an impressive rookie. To begin his sophomore season, Diggs shredded the Tennessee Titans for 103 yards on seven catches. That was with Shaun Hill at quarterback. With Bradford, he took his game up to superstar level.

“I think he’s even more competitive every day in practice – every day,” head coach Mike Zimmer said. “I see that all the time so maybe that’s it.”

If there were any nerves for Bradford making his first start as a Viking – and on national TV, no less, they didn’t show. The former No. 1 overall quarterback was accurate, hitting Rudolph in the corner for Minnesota’s first touchdown pass, and moving the ball through the air consistently by completing 70.9% of his passes.

“He’s a real poised guy,” Diggs said. “If you ever look at him, he has the same facial expression, the whole time he isn’t going to smile too much. In the game, we were in the huddle and he said ‘let’s go finish’ and he shows you that tenacity that you want.”

Zimmer may have underestimated his new quarterback’s poise. The Vikings’ coach revealed after the game that he had wanted Bradford to start Week 1 against the Tennessee Titans because he didn’t want his debut to be against the Packers.

“My plan wasn’t for his first snap to take here at US Bank Stadium against Green Bay, I was planning on getting him in the game last week at a certain time…it just didn’t work out that way…I didn’t think it was the best situation for him but he made the best of it.”

Bradford battled through consistent pressure from Green Bay pass rusher Clay Matthews and the Packers defense, taking four sacks and a number of hits after throws.

“He’s got some toughness to him,” Zimmer said. “This isn’t his first rodeo, so he’s had opportunities to get in there and continue to go. He was pretty composed all night.”

The former Rams and Eagles quarterback suffered a hand injury that forced him to run to the locker room when the Packers had the ball in the second quarter. With his left his left hand swollen and cut, Bradford returned and played better than before the injury.

The Packers attempted to have cornerback Damarious Randall match up with Diggs on a regular basis, but he was beaten on the 44-yard catch and called for the game-ending interference.

“They didn’t do anything to surprise us, we were just outplayed,” Randall said.

Outplay teams: That’s what the Vikings’ top receiver has done for the first two weeks (and many times last season) and whether Peterson is going to miss significant time or not, that’s what the Vikings should continue to do.

The post No running game? No problem: Diggs and Bradford prove they can lead the Vikings offense appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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