I asked Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford if he had ever started a game so dynamically as he did Sunday against the Houston Texans at U.S. Bank Stadium, when the Vikings jumped to an early 14-0 lead with just over eight minutes elapsed in the first quarter. The two drives totaled 16 plays and 139 yards, and Bradford was 6-for-8 for 99 yards.
“That’s a good question, I don’t know,” Bradford said. “[Sunday] is obviously the way you want to go into a bye week. We came out, we started fast, we played with a lead. I thought our guys up front did a great job. That was a really good front seven that we just played. They got the run game going, kept me clean for most of the day. It’s just a really good team win.”
Since the Vikings traded with the Eagles for Bradford on Sept. 3, he has made four starts and outplayed any quarterback in the NFL with the following statistics: 70.4 completion percentage (88-for-125), 990 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions.
That’s good for a 109.7 QB rating. That number is on pace for the second-greatest quarterbacking season in Vikings history (trailing only Daunte Culpepper’s 110.9 QB rating in 2004) and the 17th-highest rating in NFL history.
How did Bradford account for the team’s effectiveness early, outscoring the Texans 14-0 and outgaining them 141-13 in the first quarter?
“I thought we had a really good game plan coming into this week,” he said. “Obviously you never expect it to go exactly how it does, but [Sunday] it worked out pretty well for us and it was good to get a lead early.
“Starting fast is something we’ve talked about the past couple of weeks. It seems like it’s taken us a little bit to get into a rhythm. So it was nice to kind of start the way we did and play with a lead. I think when we play ahead and give our defense a chance to get after the passer, I think that is pretty tough on the [opponent].”
How does Bradford feel about the start of his Vikings career, which in most peoples’ opinion could not have been scripted any better?
“Any time you can start 5-0 in this league, it doesn’t happen very often,” he said. “I’ve never been a part of a team who has done something like this. I’m trying to enjoy the moment, enjoy the day. It’s a fun group of guys to come to work with every day. I think we all enjoy being around each other, and it has been a heck of a ride so far.”
Bradford was asked how he was able to make the transition so quickly, from being signed roughly one week before the season started to settling in as quarterback for what might be the best team in the NFL.
“I’m trying to make it fit,” he said. “Norv [Turner, offensive coordinator], Scott [Turner, quarterbacks coach], Pat [Shurmur, tight ends coach], Shaun [Hill, backup quarterback], the list goes on in the people who have helped me try to make this transition. They have just done a great job making me feel at ease, making me feel comfortable, incorporating things that I’ve done in the past and things we do in this system.”
Can this Vikings team go all the way?
“I hope so,” Bradford said. “We’re going to try.”
Cordarrelle Patterson, who spent last season returning kickoffs and caught only two passes for 10 yards, is starting to play the kind of game the Vikings envisioned when they made him a first-round pick in 2013.
Patterson is now returning kicks and making tackles and forcing fumbles as a gunner on the punt team, and he’s starting to look like the great receiver Vikings fans saw in his rookie season. On Sunday he caught his first touchdown pass since 2014 and finished with four receptions for 39 yards.
“I’m just doing what I’m supposed to do,” Patterson said. “I’m a football player. So when my number is called, I just go out and try to make a play.”
So what is his favorite thing to do on the field?
“Everything, whatever it takes,” Patterson said. “Football players like to make football plays.”
Patterson described his first touchdown catch in nearly 24 months.
“Before the play we called it and [wide receiver Adam Thielen] told me, ‘Go and get a touchdown,’ ” he said. “We’ve been working on it and my number was called and I was prepared for it.”
Does he feel like the past two weeks, when he’s performed so well in so many facets of the game, will silence his critics?
“They can keep hating on me,” Patterson said. “I like when they hate on me and [I] just keep proving them wrong.”
Can he become a top receiver in the NFL?
“It’s too early to say, every receiver on this team right now has been working hard and doing a good job,” he said. “Of course we all want to be one of the best, but whatever happens, happens.”
Robison’s big start
A lot of Vikings have had great starts to their season, but defensive end Brian Robison, at 33, might be having the best start of his career.
Robison, who had 4½ sacks in 2014 and five sacks in 2015, has look completely rejuvenated this year with four sacks through the first five games, including two against the Texans.
“This victory was huge for us,” Robison said. “I mean to be able to be 5-0, go into the bye week and be able to sit back and see what happens this week, that’s a huge win for us.”
What has he seen from this defense so far?
“We just keep doing what we have to do in order to win ballgames,” he said. “We keep creating turnovers. We’re playing good in the run game. Then we get in situations where we’re getting around the quarterback. We just have to keep that up moving forward and keep coming in every single day and try to get better than we were the day before.”
Robison is one of the few remaining players who was with the Vikings in 2009 when they reached the NFC Championship Game. Can this team be as good as that Brett Favre-led squad?
“Well, I think we have an opportunity to be,” Robison said. “It’s still early in the season, but I think this defense and this team really has an opportunity to be something special and possibly at the end of the day be one of the best to come through here.”
Robison was asked if he was worried during the second half, when both teams scored only seven points, but he was quick to point out how big an advantage it was to have such a large early lead.
“Our defense was pretty huge all day, but I can’t say enough about our offense putting 31 points on the board with all the adversity they have been facing,” he said. “I can’t say enough about those guys.”
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. firstname.lastname@example.org