Bridgewater, Vikings beat Chargers 23-10 in stadium opener
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Teddy Bridgewater was sharp in his return from a sore shoulder, completing 12 of 16 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown in the first half for the Minnesota Vikings in a 23-10 exhibition victory Sunday over the San Diego Chargers in the official unveiling their new stadium.
After sitting out last week at Seattle, Bridgewater found Kyle Rudolph for a 27-yard score and led the Vikings to points on three of five possessions. Bridgewater even put a slick juke on strong safety Adrian Phillips to further a 22-yard run that set up one of three short field goals by Blair Walsh.
Melvin Gordon, aiming to rebound from a rough rookie season, cruised through the middle of Minnesota's starting defense for a 39-yard touchdown run. San Diego lost running back Branden Oliver, though, to an Achilles tendon injury on his right leg that required a cart to take him off. Oliver is the primary kickoff returner and a contributing backup behind Gordon and Danny Woodhead.
With sunlight streaming in from the floor-to-ceiling glass on the west side and through the translucent, space-age roof, the Vikings enjoyed a gleaming debut for U.S. Bank Stadium. The sold-out crowd of 66,143 was the largest at home in franchise history.
The Chargers undoubtedly felt some envy, with their decade-and-a-half quest to replace 49-year-old Qualcomm Stadium still unfulfilled and a move to Los Angeles still a possibility. This game was conveniently scheduled for national broadcast on Fox, in case folks in San Diego were still on the fence about public funding.
Philip Rivers went 5 for 9 for 54 yards and an interception, one of three by the Vikings. Rookies Jayron Kearse and Mackensie Alexander picked off Chargers third-stringer Mike Bercovici, who's competing with Zach Mettenberger for a roster spot.
Bercovici threw three straight passes into the end zone in the fourth quarter that the Vikings had their hands on, the last one finally intercepted by second-round draft pick Alexander.
With Adrian Peterson resting on the sideline, backup Jerick McKinnon rushed eight times for 56 yards. Stefon Diggs caught five passes for 71 yards, all in the first half. Cordarrelle Patterson recovered Mycole Pruitt's fumble, one of two lost by the Vikings, in the end zone for a touchdown.
Chargers: Sixth-round draft pick Drew Kaser dropped three punts inside the 10-yard line.
Vikings: WR Laquon Treadwell made a tricky catch on a fade route in the corner of the end zone on a 2-point conversion pass from Shaun Hill.
Chargers: DE Darius Philon had a sack in the first half, continuing a decent training camp in place of holdout rookie Joey Bosa. With Bosa unsigned in a public dispute over his contract, DT Damion Square suspended for the first four games for an NFL substance abuse policy violation and DT Sean Lissemore (shoulder) out for the season, the Chargers need Philon to help stabilize a depleted front.
Vikings: Joe Berger played the whole first half with the first team at center over John Sullivan, who missed last season with a back injury and has not been assured of getting back his job. Berger, entering his 12th NFL season, is also the primary backup at both guard spots.
Chargers: Beside Oliver, RT Joe Barksdale also came out of the game in the first half, limping off with a left ankle injury.
Vikings: Backup safety Antone Exum, hurt playing on the kickoff return team, left on a cart for X-rays on his leg.
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