Mike Zimmer made the right call, starting Sam Bradford over Shaun Hill. Mike McCarthy made a costly decision, giving up a field goal to go on fourth down.
Bradford outplayed Aaron Rodgers in an impressive debut for the Vikings, and Minnesota celebrated the opening of its new $1.1 billion stadium by defeating the Green Bay Packers 17-14.
Bradford, acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 3 for a first-round pick and a conditional fourth-round choice, watched Hill lead the Vikings (2-0) to a season-opening win. He continued his crash course in a new offense, but Zimmer didn’t reveal who would start against the Packers until Bradford came out with the first unit in warmups.
Minnesota didn’t trade two picks for Bradford to sit on the bench. Still, there was some thought Hill deserved another start while Bradford got more time to learn a new system.
“I was impressed with pretty much everything he did,” Zimmer said of Bradford. “I thought he had great composure. I thought he had good control of things.”
The result could’ve been different if McCarthy let Mason Crosby kick a tying 31-yard field goal late in the third quarter. Instead, the Packers went for a fourth-and-2 and James Starks was stopped 1 yard short.
Bradford tossed his second TD pass on the ensuing drive to give Minnesota a 17-7 lead.
“I felt the advantage was to the offense in that particular situation. We all saw the play call, and it’s my decision,” McCarthy said. “I definitely felt we were playing the way we needed to play.”
Here’s a closer look behind other important calls in Week 2:
WHAT IS A CATCH?: Fans, coaches and players are still perplexed by the NFL’s catch rule. In the second quarter at Houston, Kansas City’s Demetrius Harris appeared to make a catch and take about three steps before he was stripped and lost the ball. But the play was reviewed and changed to an incomplete pass.
Later in the quarter, a no-catch against DeAndre Hopkins cost the Texans a TD and they settled for a field goal. Despite the calls, Houston beat the Chiefs 19-12.
“I don’t know anything about the catch rule,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “Somebody is going to have to really sit down with me and explain to me the catch rule.”
GUTSY TOSS: On fourth-and-5 with the game on the line, Marcus Mariota threw a perfect 9-yard TD pass to a well-covered Andre Johnson with 1:13 left to lift the Titans to a 16-15 win over Detroit. Mariota lofted the pass over one defender and into Johnson’s arms just out of the reach of a second defender and right before a third defender could bat it away.
“We had a matchup with Andre on a linebacker,” Mariota said. “We felt that we could kind of exploit that a little bit, and he made a great play. I just tried to give him a chance.”
IT’S TRICKY: The Cowboys tried an onside kick after taking a 20-17 lead in the third quarter at Washington. The football traveled less than the required 10 yards, so the Redskins got the ball at Dallas 38 and drove for a tying field goal. Dak Prescott eventually led the Cowboys to the winning score after Kirk Cousins threw an end-zone interception .
FLIPPED: A taunting call on Cleveland’s Terrelle Pryor for flipping the ball at a defender with 27 seconds remaining negated a 20-yard catch to the Ravens 10. Josh McCown was intercepted on the next play and the Browns lost 25-20.
“I’m sure the officials are looking for certain things and sometimes those things will get called,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said.
CLOCK MISMANAGEMENT: Broncos coach Gary Kubiak decided to kick a field goal on fourth-and-1 from the Colts 17 with 1:54 left to extend Denver’s lead to 26-20. But Indianapolis had no timeouts left, so if Denver went for it and converted, the Broncos would have been able run out the clock. If Indy’s defense held, Andrew Luck still would have had to drive the offense a long way.
Von Miller made sure it didn’t matter with his sack-strip , but Kubiak second-guessed himself afterward.
“I’ll be honest with you, I really didn’t like my decision,” Kubiak said. “I know that’s crazy. We won the game.”
AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton and Sports Writers Kristie Rieken and Tom Withers contributed to this report.
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