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If the Green Bay Packers were to beat the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday, we all know it would have been Aaron Rodgers who would have made the difference. Instead, the Vikings won 17-14 and yes, the quarterback made the difference – but it was Sam Bradford, making his first start ever for the Vikings, who decided the outcome.
Think about it: Sam Bradford gave the Vikings the best quarterbacking since a fellow named Brett Favre called the signals.
Acquired to replace the injured Teddy Bridgewater, Bradford was 22-31 passing for 286 yards and two touchdowns, to his new favorite receiver, Stefon Diggs. Rodgers was 20-36 for 213 yards and one touchdown, but he also fumbled three times and had a late interception that prevented him from working his usual game-ending magic.
By the way, quarterback domination works in college football, too. UMD pulled out a weird score-a-thon at Concordia when Drew Bauer passed for 246 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 151 more and another TD in a 52-49 victory. And St. Scholastica blew out Eureka in a battle for first place in the UMAC, with quarterback Kyle Stepka throwing five touchdown passes – all longer than 20 yards – and compiled 308 passing yards, while running for another TD by going airborne, in a 47-6 romp at Public Schools Stadium.
Both Bauer and Stepka will be able to show their stuff for the home fans Saturday as the Saints are home at Public Schools Stadium for the second week in a row, and UMD swept St.Cloud State 3-0, which makes them 11-0 for the season. UMD comes home to face Augustana for the first of two straight home games at 6 p.m.
Naturally, the Vikings-Packers game was the crowning touch to the weekend of football. And it continues, as we wait to hear whether Adrian Peterson will miss a week or two, or the season, after tearing the meniscus in his knee.
Back to the quarterback show, it is interesting almost to the point of amusement to listen to the zealots suggesting that Rodgers is washed up, can’t do it anymore, and failed under pressure. Amazing. Consider that these were two heavyweights trading blows throughout. If both showed shortcomings, it was because they faced extreme pressure from a ferocious and skilled opponent, every play. Bradshaw stood in there, took a pounding, but threw some beautiful missiles to an assortment of receivers, and at 22-31, three or four more should have been caught as well.
Rodgers also took a licking, as both teams focused their defense on getting to and pounding the opposing quarterback. The fact that the Vikings succeeded in forcing him to make some alternate choices is to the Vikings credit, not Rodgers’ discredit. In fact, if Rodgers doesn’t throw that final interception, but completes the pass instead, the Packers very likely would have won the game and all the critics would be cheering in his praise.
So Bradford won the battle of quarterbacks, and next he and the Vikings get to go to Charlotte to face the Carolina Panthers and their quarterback, Cam Newton – last year’s MVP in the league and very possibly the most difficult quarterback to contain. He is a giant, at 6-5 and 245 pounds, and he loves to run around and through defenders. Should be another great battle, although the Vikings will undoubtedly miss Adrian Peterson, who suffered a torn meniscus in his knee. Meanwhile, the Packers play Drew Stafford and Detroit in what should be a pass-filled battle, and if the Packers bounce back and win, all will be right again in Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood.