Aaron Rodgers has two NFL MVP awards and one Super Bowl ring, and he’s in his ninth season as the starter for Green Bay. Sam Bradford was never on a winning team over his first six years in the league. He had 15 days to learn Minnesota’s offence, then lost his Hall of Fame calibre running back to injury in the third quarter.
Guess who was the more productive quarterback on Sunday night?
Bradford’s debut was almost as dazzling as Minnesota’s new $1.1 billion stadium itself. He completed 22 of 31 passes for 286 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers to lead the Vikings to a 17-14 victory over the Packers.
“We won, and at the end of the day that’s all that matters,” Bradford said.
The new guy was sharp, though, and that matters a lot for the Vikings (2-0) and their Super Bowl aspirations that took a hit when Teddy Bridgewater went down last month with a massive injury to his left knee. That triggered the bold trade with Philadelphia to bring in Bradford.
Bradford and emerging weapon Stefon Diggs moved the ball just enough, and the defence did the rest, harassing Rodgers for five sacks and two fourth-quarter turnovers that quashed the comeback and sent the crowd of 66,813 into a deafening frenzy in the first regular season game at the new US Bank Stadium.
Adrian Peterson limped off in the third quarter with a right knee injury. Peterson is one of several key performers dropping like they’ve been through two months of the NFL season, not two weeks. The Patriots, perhaps the league’s best team, appear to be down to their third QB, with Jimmy Garoppolo joining the suspended Tom Brady on the sidelines. The Pats still held off a Miami Dolphins fightback for a 31-24 win which takes them to 2-0 despite the absence of Tom Brady and now Garoppolo.
The Cleveland Browns, possibly the NFL’s worst team, also is might be working on quarterback No. 3. The luckless Browns led 20-0 in the first quarter but a blocked extra point, returned by Tavon Young for a rare defensive two-point conversion, sparked a 25-20 comeback win for the Baltimore Ravens featuring two Mike Wallace touchdowns.
The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Cincinnati Bengals 24-16 in a repeat of last season’s AFC wild card game.
Kelvin Benjamin scored twice in the third quarter as last season’s Super Bowl runners-up the Carolina Panthers won 46-27 against the San Francisco 49ers.
New Orleans Saints were beaten 16-13 by the New York Giants after Josh Brown’s late field goal.
The Dallas Cowboys edged a tight match against the Washington Redskins in the Giants’ NFC East. With Washington leading 23-20 late in the game, A crowd of more than 91,000 at the LA Memorial Coliseum were delighted to see the Rams make a winning start on their return to the the city for the first time in nearly 22 years. Although they have yet to find the end zone since leaving St Louis, Greg Zuerlein’s three field goals gave the Rams a 9-3 win over NFC West rivals the Seattle Seahawks, erasing memories of the opening 28-0 loss to San Francisco.
Carson Palmer threw for 308 yards and three touchdowns as the Arizona Cardinals brushed aside the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 40-7, while Justin Hardy snaffled a deflected eight-yard touchdown pass to set up the Atlanta Falcons for a 35-28 win over the Oakland Raiders.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have started 0-2 for the fourth time in five seasons as a result of the 38-14 loss to the San Diego Chargers. The New York Jets sunk the Buffalo Bills 37-31, while the Indianapolis Colts are 0-2 after a 34-20 defeat to the Denver Broncos.
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