- - Sunday, November 2, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS — The rookie started to grow up before everyone’s eyes.

Much to the chagrin of the Washington Redskins defense.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had a tough opening quarter on Sunday in his fifth career start. Bridgewater began to break down the Redskins defense in the second quarter, and by the second half he led three possessions that resulted in touchdowns. That included his first career game-winning drive in the Vikings‘ 29-26 victory over the Redskins.

Bridgewater showed glimpses of greatness in the second half, a big reason why the Vikings traded back into the first round of the May draft to snag the gunslinger from Louisville.

Teddy was good,” Redskins safety Ryan Clark said. “He was patient, he allowed those guys to break off and get past us.”

Bridgewater started the game shaky by completing just 3 of his first 7 passes for 38 yards in the opening quarter. The rest of the game, he threw for 230 yards. He finished 26-for-42 for 268 yards and one touchdown, establishing a career high in completions. It’s only the second time Bridgewater has thrown for more than 250 yards in six career games.

Bridgewater missed on a couple of potential big plays in the opening half — including a wide-open Cordarrelle Patterson that should have resulted in a 62-yard touchdown pass. However, Bridgewater overthrew the speedy Patterson by a good five yards in the middle of the field.

The Vikings were forced to punt on their first four possessions of the first half and the fifth stalled inside Washington territory. On the Vikings‘ sixth and final drive of the half, Bridgewater connected for a 20-yard touchdown pass to Chase Ford. That proved an indication of events to come.

“Sometimes you’re going to have some slow starts, but it’s all about how you finish the game,” Bridgewater told reporters.

Washington, which entered the game ranked seventh in the NFL in allowing just 219.2 passing yards per outing, had a solid mindset going into the second half to stop the Vikings‘ offense.

“Keep doing what we were doing,” Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said. “They couldn’t run the ball on us in the first half and had trouble throwing it. We were getting decent pressure in the first half and they made some good adjustments and started running the zone read and a lot of play-action passes, which means max protection.”

The Redskins had breakdowns in their secondary starting in the third quarter, but that was due in large part to Bridgewater’s ability to extend plays. The first-year quarterback had plenty of time in the pocket and when he was forced outside he either found open receivers or tucked the ball and ran. After not attempting a rush in the first half, Bridgewater scrambled three times for 20 yards late in the game.

“When you play a guy with improvisation skills, you play a guy who can maneuver in the pocket, you have to cover longer,” Clark said. “We knew that coming into the game. He made plays. You look at some of those back-shoulder throws, some of the routes they were able to break off because he escaped contain. Those are things you have to be ready for when you play a guy like Teddy, and I think that’s something he started to do more in the second half and it worked to their benefit.”

Kerrigan was surprised by Bridgewater’s mobility. However, Bridgewater had a tendency to create opportunities for his team while at Louisville.

“Coming into the game, he was a little more stationary in the pocket,” Kerrigan said. “Today he was all over the place and made a lot of plays with his legs, so you’ve got to give credit to him.”

Bridgewater led three second-half touchdown drives as the Vikings only had to punt twice, the last one while they were trying to kill the clock late in the game.

“I think Teddy did a good job of stepping up and keeping his eyes down field and not focusing on the rushing, really,” Redskins linebacker Trent Murphy said.

The Vikings trailed three times in the game, but Bridgewater never wavered. Down 26-21 with 9:01 remaining in the fourth quarter, Bridgewater went to work. With the presence of a 10-year veteran quarterback, Bridgewater picked apart the Redskins defense.

To chants of “Teddy, Teddy” at TCF Bank Stadium, he was 5-for-7 on the drive for 64 yards. Bridgewater hit back-to-back 21-yard passes to Jarius Wright and Ford. Matt Asiata ended up closing out the drive and the game on a 1-yard touchdown run. Asiata also added a 2-point conversion run.

“They came out and had a good scheme, run the ball, run the ball, play action, sucked us in and threw the ball,” Redskins cornerback David Amerson said. “A lot of crossing routes, a lot of deep crosses and stuff like that. We didn’t do enough to defend it.”

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