The first taste of football for the 2015 season was the rudimentary affair many expected. Neither the Pittsburgh Steelers nor the Minnesota Vikings were particularly polished when they took the field in Canton. The big names largely sat, leaving backups and camp hopefuls to do most of the heavy lifting. The Vikings were the first winners of the 2015 season, defeating the Steelers, 14-3.
The Vikings' first possession of the day may have been the most impressive by either team, though it didn't end in a score. Teddy Bridgewater and the Vikings' first-team offense came out against the Steelers' first-team defense and marched 51 yards in 10 plays down to the Steelers' 10-yard line. The drive ended when Jerick McKinnon was stuffed on fourth-and-1, but Bridgewater looked sharp, going 5-of-6 for 44 yards.
The Steelers struck first with a field goal from Shaun Suisham in the second quarter. They would be shut out the rest of the way, however. MyCole Pruitt scored the first touchdown of the NFL preseason when he broke open against the Steelers' secondary for a 34-yard score to the bottom left corner of the end zone on a floated pass from Mike Kafka. The Vikings extended the lead with a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Joe Banyard.
Landry Jones started the entire game for the Steelers and struggled, going just 16-of-32 for 135 yards and an interception, which came one play after the Steelers' defense picked off Taylor Heinicke. Collectively, the Vikings' quarterback were much better. Combined, Bridgewater, Heinicke and Kafka went 19-of-26 for 159 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
3 things we learned:
1) Teddy Bridgewater looks poised
It was one drive, and he never threw deep, but Bridgewater looked decisive and sharp during his only drive of the game. He went 5-of-6 passing for 44 yards against the Steelers' first-stringers. He had a particular affinity for tight end Kyle Rudolph, who was hit twice for 22 yards and two first downs.
It's just a taste, but in that taste Bridgewater looked every part an NFL starter. He knew what he was doing with the ball, and released it quickly. Given that it's still early August, Vikings fans should be happy with what they saw.
2) The Steelers are going to have fun with Dri Archer
The Steelers' goal during the first half seemed to get Dri Archer the ball by any means necessary. He rushed the ball (four times for 24 yards), caught the ball (six times for 33 yards) and had a good kickoff return for 34 yards to the Steelers' 30-yard line in the second quarter.
Archer was not a big part of the offense in 2014 after being selected in the third round, despite his obvious athleticism. If Sunday's game is any indication, he is beginning to grasp the many different roles the Steelers would like him to play. If he can carry this momentum into the season, he could be an incredible weapon for Pittsburgh.
3) Football is back and it is fun
GIF: Tony Dungy thumbs up reaction. pic.twitter.com/zeqhLgUdfC— MarcusD (@_MarcusD_) August 10, 2015