Photo credit: Tulsa World

The Minnesota Vikings began their season on Monday night with a 29-19 victory over the New Orleans Saints. A big reason for that was the stellar play of quarterback Sam Bradford, which earned him NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

He went 27/32 for 346 yards and three touchdowns. He also had a career high quarterback rating of 143.0.

“I said this offseason, ‘This will be a big year for Sam,’ ” Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph said. “I wasn’t surprised by his performance on Monday night. There’s a reason why he was drafted No. 1 overall, and a reason he had the success he had in college.” (

Last season Bradford had the best season of his career, throwing for 3,877 yards (career high) with 20 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also set an NFL record with a completion percentage of 71.6 and had a career high quarterback rating of 99.3.

A big reason for the high completion though was from him being forced to throw many short passes. The offensive line was once again among the worst in the league and the running game was last in the league in yards. He still was accurate on deep passes too, though the lack of protection prevented him from doing that more often. Given Bradford’s injury history, it was a miracle that he was healthy last season with the line struggling.

On Monday night the offensive line played well and rookie Dalvin Cook rushed for 127 yards in his debut (Adrian Peterson had the previous team record with 103 yards in his debut in 2007).

Bradford is also asked to be a bigger leader this season after being acquired a just eight days before the start of the regular season last year. He was named one of the team captains by head coach Mike Zimmer last week, along with left tackle Riley Reiff, tight end Kyle Rudolph, defensive ends Everson Griffen and Brian Robison and cornerback Terence Newman.

“To be named a captain and know that I’m one of the leaders in this locker room and on this football team, it means a lot, and I take a lot of pride in it,” said Bradford, a captain for the first time since he was with St. Louis in 2014. “I think there’s a lot of responsibility that comes with that, and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure to live up to that.” (

If Bradford and the rest of the offense can even come close to playing this well the rest of the season, it will be very huge. They already have one of the best defenses in the league. The offense playing well will only help the defense that much more.

Having a full offseason with the team this time will benefit Bradford, along with the improved talent on the offense.

You can follow Ali Siddiqui on twitter @asiddiqui15 and @SPOT_Vikings for Vikings news and updates.