The Broncos pass rush caused problems for Teddy Bridgewater all day on Sunday, so it was fitting that it forced the turnover that allowed Denver to escape with a 23-20 win.
T.J. Ward stripped Bridgewater of the ball as the Vikings tried to rally back after Brandon McManus’s field goal put the Broncos ahead late in the fourth quarter. It was the seventh sack of the day for the Broncos defense and it gave them a win on a day when they blew a 10-point lead in the final 15 minutes.
Bridgewater completed 13-of-15 passes in the second half and Adrian Peterson went 48 yards for a touchdown on a fourth-and-one in the fourth quarter as the Vikings erased that Broncos lead to tie the game at 20 with 5:11 left to play. Peyton Manning completed a couple of passes to help the Broncos get in position for McManus’s third field goal of the day, but that wasn’t enough to make the day a great one for the Broncos quarterback.
Manning threw a pair of interceptions that the Vikings turned into 10 points and was 17-of-27 for 213 yards overall. Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson combined for 146 yards on 22 carries, although almost half of them came on Hillman’s 72-yard touchdown run in the first half. It was another unimpressive offensive performance all things considered, but the Broncos remain undefeated thanks in large part to the defense that Wade Phillips has put together in his first year back in Denver.
Peterson’s big run was the only moment that he had a major impact on the game and Bridgewater’s hot run in the second half came at the price of many hits and constant pressure in the pocket. That he stood up to it well enough to bring the team back reflects well, but the early struggles were enough to send the Vikings to 2-2 on the year.
At some point, one would guess that the Broncos’ middling offensive production will catch up with them. At this point, though, they remain undefeated with a trip to Oakland and a chance to take firm control of the AFC West coming up next weekend.