Teddy Bridgewater responds to Mike Zimmer's challenge in win over Lions

Teddy Bridgewater completed 25 of 35 passes for 316 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday. AP Photo/Rick Osentoski

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings' offense finally hit its stride on Sunday, with a balanced attack that posted more yards than it has in any game since Teddy Bridgewater's first start last September. In the process, the Vikings answered one of coach Mike Zimmer's major challenges for Sunday's game against the Lions: take care of the football.

A game the Vikings could have won in Detroit last December turned into a 16-14 loss when Bridgewater threw a pair of costly interceptions. Zimmer spent part of his week reminding the Vikings why they'd lost that game -- and challenged them to fix several areas, including ball security.

The Vikings' only turnover in 75 offensive plays was a botched exchange between Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson, and Bridgewater finished his year against the Lions with zero interceptions and two victories. He directed an offense that held the ball for 36:27 on Sunday, and didn't lose his lone fumble despite getting sacked four times and hit another seven.

"He got rocked a couple times," Zimmer said. "I wasn't sure he was going to be able to finish. He got up and made some great throws."

Here is a breakdown of the offense in Sunday's game:

Total offensive plays: 75


Notes: Whatever questions existed about Diggs' role in the offense before Sunday's game should be gone now. The fifth-round pick caught six of the nine passes targeted for him, His sensational reception on a 36-yard touchdown pass from Bridgewater was set up by a double move that turned Rashean Mathis around in man coverage. His ability to cut while remaining near top speed is impressive, and Diggs showed what he can do after the catch when he turned a four-yard pass from Bridgewater into a 30-yard gain on the first play in the second quarter. Wallace's best play of the day was a 17-yard catch off a comeback route that was set up by the receiver's speed. Thielen's lone catch was one of the Vikings' big plays off play action, when Bridgewater found him open for 30 yards. If Wright misses time with a concussion, it will be interesting to see how the Vikings shuffle their receivers now that Johnson has lost his starting job to Diggs. Johnson's only catch in nine snaps came when he sat down in zone coverage and Bridgewater found him for 21 yards. Patterson was in as a run blocker for three of his four snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.

Running backs

Notes: Peterson was hit within a yard of the line of scrimmage on 15 of his 18 carries, according to ESPN Stats and Information, but his 75-yard run was a taste of vintage AP. He surged off the right side of the line and got slowed up by Glover Quin before Ziggy Ansah caught him, but Peterson's stiff-arm probably bought him another 10 to 15 yards on the run. He did miss a blitz pickup when he couldn't cut Josh Bynes in the first quarter. McKinnon started to see his playing time come back with nine carries on Sunday, and he wound up with 36 yards for the day. Line's 49-yard catch-and-run was a perfect setup; he chipped Bynes, leaked out of the backfield on play action and found himself wide open when the Lions rushed six; he ran out of room on the sideline after trying to direct Diggs to open a cutback lane for him.

Tight ends

Notes: Pruitt's down block on Jason Jones was what sprung Peterson on his 75-yard run. For all of his success as a receiver in college, the Vikings have mostly used the fifth-round pick as a blocker so far, and Pruitt has thrived in the role. "It's new, but as a rookie, you've got to do what you're called upon to do," Pruitt said. "This team's obviously on a high note right now, and you can't complain about wins at all." Rudolph has touchdown catches in back-to-back games, and he's shown signs of being the red zone threat for Bridgewater that he used to be for Christian Ponder. His TD came in a heavy set with Austin Shepherd on the field; Rudolph blocked Jones, shed him and caught Bridgewater's play-action pass for a one-yard score.


Notes: Bridgewater took plenty of hits on Sunday, but found room to work on intermediate routes. According to ESPN Stats and Information, he hit six of his nine throws of 15 yards or more, for 136 yards and a touchdown. Diggs had to make a sensational catch to haul in Bridgewater's touchdown throw, but the quarterback threw a pretty pass. His best throw of the day might have been the one Wright dropped on the play that caused his concussion.

Offensive line:

Notes: Fusco has struggled as a pass protector at times this season, and he gave up one of the Lions' four sacks on Sunday. Berger also gave up a sack, but controlled the middle of the Lions' line for the most part. Harris had one of his better days of the season, and was the only Vikings lineman not to allow a sack. The Lions threw a number of the run blitzes at the Vikings that they saw from the Chiefs the previous week. That had something to do with the line's struggles to open up holes for Peterson, but the Vikings used the Lions' aggressiveness to establish their play action game.