You know, there are plenty of things that we could complain about following the Minnesota Vikings' 20-9 loss to the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome on Sunday afternoon. We could talk about what a complete and utter joke the penalty on Captain Munnerlyn was. . .and, make no mistake, it was an absolutely pathetic call. We can talk about how the team got off to a slow start and allowed themselves to get behind early. I'm sure there are some things that I'm missing, too.
But you know what? I don't want to talk about any of that stuff. I want to talk about the way this team responded when they could have completely folded up the tents and gone home.
The Saints came out firing in their home opener after starting the season with an 0-2 record, and after Drew Brees' 34-yard touchdown pass to Josh Hill, it looked like the Vikings were ripe to get blown out. After all, this was the Saints in the Superdome, where they're invincible. They had scored at least 21 points in each of their previous 24 games, and it looked like they were going to surpass that total by the middle of the second quarter.
The Vikings had also lost their starting quarterback when Matt Cassel went down early in the second quarter with a foot injury. That forced Minnesota to do what they didn't want to do. . .start promising rookie Teddy Bridgewater on the road in a hostile environment with a shell of what used to be one of the National Football League's best running games backing him up.
And, you know, I'm not even going to bring up all the off-the-field garbage this team has gone through over the past nine days.
Yes, last year's Vikings probably would have just curled up into the fetal position and taken the blowout like they were supposed to. But this team did not. . .not Mike Zimmer's Vikings.
The Vikings kept the Saints off of the scoreboard in the second and third quarters, and it looked like they were going to mount a serious comeback before the big call on Brees by referee
Ronnie Milsap Walt Anderson. The team rallied behind Bridgewater, despite the fact that it looked like Norv Turner was giving him a game plan more limited than the kid's menu at McDonald's. Bridgewater, in an absolutely hostile environment and against a defensive coordinator (Rob Ryan) that is apparently hell on young quarterbacks, looked poised and ready to take over a starting job that the team looked to be reluctant to give him.
This team looked like it was going to get smoked. A lot of other Vikings teams in the past would have allowed themselves to get smoked. This team did not. . .maybe it's because of Mike Zimmer, maybe it's because they're too young to know better, who knows for sure.
This team has weathered a whole lot of storms so far this season, and we're only three weeks in. This is a very young team, and all of this stuff. . .as awful as it is. . .is going to make this team a better, stronger group of players. Not just now, not just this season, but going forward as well.
The Teddy Bridgewater Era begins in earnest next Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium against the Atlanta Falcons. After today's contest, we know that Bridgewater and the rest of his teammates are going to be ready for it. There's a very good chance it could be the start of something big.
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