“It was just a great experience for me and I am just excited,” Bridgewater told reporters after the 17-0 win over the Falcons. “That was the biggest takeaway from today. I am just very excited.”
Bridgewater completed seven of eight passes for 85 yards and a touchdown in two drives on Friday night. It was his first extended game action since the unofficial opening of the new Vikings stadium two years ago, when Bridgewater’s performance against the Chargers left the team and observers believing that he was poised to become a franchise quarterback. Two days later, a fluke, non-contact knee dislocation ended his season and derailed his career.
“I felt great,” Bridgewater said after Friday night’s game. “That was an awesome feeling. I was at peace out there, and I was just so excited. Glad to be out there with the guys. You can look in those guys’ eyes and feed off those guys’ energy. That’s what makes this team so special. It’s a group of guys who are passionate about what we’re doing. To be out there with those guys just added fuel to my fire and made me more passionate about this game.”
Bridgewater had no anxiety as he prepared to do something more than take a few courtesy snaps (like he did during garbage time of a blowout win over the Bengals last season, his final campaign with the Vikings).
“I wasn’t anxious at all,” Bridgewater said. “I wasn’t nervous. I trusted everything that took place prior to tonight. Whether it was the sessions in the training room with . . . or in the film room . . . to my nutrition . . . and the strength and conditioning guys. . . . Just trust the process and when that moment finally presents itself, you are ready for it and tonight I was ready. I wasn’t nervous. I was actually anxious to get hit if anything, because I wanted to get hit. It was a great day. I was glad to be out there and just excited about this team and looking forward to continue to move forward.”
So what happened when he got hit?
“It felt good,” he said. “It felt good getting hit again. You never want the quarterback getting hit, but for me it was the final step of the process. Got hit, got right back up and it just served as a reminder that the game is still the same. It’s still a physical game and the hits still feel the same.”
Bridgewater, in many respects, still looked the same. Which makes him a candidate either to be a factor on his team’s depth chart, or to become the last-minute arrival for a new team, if another quarterback has the kind of injury Bridgewater suffered in the final countdown to the new regular season.