Teddy Bridgewater is an underrated runner. Just ask him.
“I think so,” Bridgewater said after scoring just the second rushing touchdown of his career in Sunday’s 26-16 victory over the Lions at TCF Bank Stadium.
“I try not to be in those positions, but it’s good to have it in your bag or two, and I just had to use my legs a little [Sunday]. And maybe throughout the course of the year, I’ll have to run a little more.”
The second-year quarterback didn’t exactly impersonate Randall Cunningham on Sunday. He ran six times for 21 yards, including the shifty 1-yard score, which came off a fake to Adrian Peterson and gave the Vikings a 14-0 lead.
But Bridgewater also looked more confident in a moving pocket that took advantage of a Lions defense that doesn’t have nearly the bite it had while dominating Bridgewater as a rookie a year ago.
“I think [running] changes the rush lanes for defenses,” Bridgewater said of offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s decision to put his young QB in a movable pocket. “Instead of just being able to rush me, or rush the passer whenever taking a straight drop, if I’m rolling out in the pocket or throwing on the run, different things change their rushing lanes. It kind of throws defenses off a little.”
Let’s be honest. This wasn’t the same defense that ranked No. 2 in points allowed while pounding Bridgewater for 12 sacks and five interceptions in two Vikings losses a year ago. Last year’s best defender, tackle Ndamukong Suh, is now a Dolphin and this year’s best defender, middle linebacker DeAndre Levy, is injured and hasn’t played yet.
But Ezekiel Ansah, the rush end who punished left tackle Matt Kalil for 2½ sacks at TCF Bank Stadium a year ago, did play. He had Detroit’s only sack, which came with Ansah lined up over rookie right tackle T.J. Clemmings.
Bridgewater probably held the ball too long on the sack. But, overall, it was a dramatic improvement over Week 1, when Bridgewater admitted he was “too excited” to play the opener.
Bridgewater completed 77.8 percent of his passes (14-for-18) for 153 yards, no turnovers and a 120.6 passer rating. And, yes, he had the touchdown run, which he pretended to forget when a reporter asked about it.
“[It] was a terrific run,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “We didn’t block the defensive end; we missed him, so [Bridgewater] had to juke about three people to get there. The kid is such a competitor and a great winner. I don’t think he was as accurate as he could have been [Sunday]. … We’ll continue to work with that, but I love everything about him, everything about this kid. He’s a winner.”