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INSIDE SLANT: Vikings, AP find their groove

The Minnesota Vikings released a deep sigh of relief after Sunday's second game of the season. Six days after a 20-3 loss at San Francisco rocked the franchise with the team's thorough ineptitude, the Vikings returned home to TCF Bank Stadium and...

The Minnesota Vikings released a deep sigh of relief after Sunday's second game of the season.

Six days after a 20-3 loss at San Francisco rocked the franchise with the team's thorough ineptitude, the Vikings returned home to TCF Bank Stadium and beat the Detroit Lions, 26-16, a win made even more important because win they lost both games to that division rival last season.

Admittedly, the Lions are not the same team. Last year's best defender, Ndamukong Suh, signed with Miami in the offseason. And this year's best defender, DeAndre Levy, didn't play because of injury. But none of that diminished the sense of relief in the home locker room.

"I'm really proud of how the team responded," coach Mike Zimmer said. "I told somebody after last week's loss that it felt like we were 0-10, not 0-1. We had to really dig down deep and fight and practice and study. We had a lot of grouchy players last week, grouchy coaches. And I thought we answered the bell today."

You name it and chances are very good that the Vikings were better at it in Week 2.

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Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was much more poised, completing 14 of 18 passes for 153 yards, one touchdown, no turnovers and a rushing touchdown. Of course, it did help that the line allowed only one sack while protecting the deceptively mobile Bridgewater with several moving pockets.

Running back Adrian Peterson, who had only 10 carries for 31 yards against the 49ers, had seven carries for 45 yards on the first series en-route to 134 yards on 29 carries for the game. He did fumble twice and a third was negated by penalty, but came away happy that he was once again the workhorse back.

"I don't know if that was actually the game plan, but it was working," Peterson said. "And I guess if it was working, don't stop."

Defensively, the Vikings had three takeaways, but the highlight was the dominant run defense. Less than a week after giving up 230 yards on 39 carries (5.9), the Vikings held Detroit to 38 yards on 16 carries. No running back reached double figures. Quarterback Matthew Stafford's four scrambles for 20 yards led the Lions.

"It was night and day," Zimmer said of the run defense. "It was more like we expect."

He could have said that in regards to just about anything the Vikings did on Sunday.

Now, of course, comes the flip side of what Zimmer faced a week ago.

"Coach (Bill) Parcells called me last week and said, 'Hey, Mike, it's human nature. Everybody's been talking about how good you are and how bad (the 49ers) were and all that kind of stuff,'" Zimmer said. "You know, this week we can't take the cheese either because people will be saying nice things about us this week."

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NOTES, QUOTES

--He didn't exactly channel his inner Michael Vick, but quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was noticeably more mobile against the Lions.

Asked if he considered himself an underrated runner, Bridgewater smiled and said, "I think so. I try not to be in those positions, but it's good to have it in your bag or two, and I just had to use my legs a little (Sunday). And maybe throughout the course of the year, I'll have to run a little more."

Bridgewater ran for only 21 yards on six carries. One of them was a nifty moved to beat a missed block to get around the end for a 1-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead.

Bridgewater's legs, however, came in even more handy when it came time to avoid the pass rush. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner used more moving pockets than he did in the Week 1 loss at San Francisco.

"I think (running) changes the rush lanes for defenses," Bridgewater said. "Instead of just being able to rush me, or rush the passer whenever taking a straight drop, if I'm rolling out in the pocket or throwing on the run, different things change their rushing lanes. It kind of throws defenses off a little."

--Running back Adrian Peterson said he was "hesitant" running the ball out of the shotgun formation in the Week 1 loss at San Francisco. Of course, his rhythm also was disrupted by the fact he carried the ball only 10 times for 31 yards.

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Sunday, he had seven carries on the first drive alone and 29 for 134 yards in the entire game. He ran the ball 19 times with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater under center, nine times from the shotgun and one time from the pistol formation (lined up behind Bridgewater in the shotgun).

"It definitely worked out this week," Peterson said. "We started off out of the 'I-formation' and made some big plays. Came back out of the gun and completed some passes, so you got the defense on their heels and they don't know what to expect."

Peterson ran 13 times for 101 yards (7.8) with no fullback and Teddy Bridgewater under center. He ran six times for 8 yards (1.3) with a fullback and Bridgewater under center, nine times for 27 yards (3.0) out of the shotgun and one time for minus-2 yards when lined up in the pistol formation.

PLAYER NOTES

--OLB Chad Greenway, the 10-year veteran with the $3.4 million base salary, played only 14 of the 78 defensive snaps. Greenway lost his job in the nickel to rookie second-round draft pick Eric Kendricks. Against the run-heavy 49ers in Week 1, Greenway played the majority of snaps. But with the Lions spreading the field and abandoning the running game, Greenway and starting middle linebacker Gerald Hodges (28 snaps) mostly sat while Kendricks played 53 snaps. Kendricks had three of the team's five missed tackles.

--SS Andrew Sendejo made his second straight start and actually held on to the job for four quarters this time. He played all 78 defensive snaps, while last year's starting strong safety, Robert Blanton, played only on special teams. Sendejo had five solo tackles.

--K Blair Walsh made both of his field goal attempts, but his slump has not ended. He pushed a PAT wide right a week after pushing his first field goal attempt of the year in a similar manner. Walsh is coming off a year in which he made only 74.3 percent of his field goals. He made only 5 of 11 attempts in the preseason.

--CB Trae Waynes, the 11th overall draft pick, still has not played a single defensive snap through two games. He's a special teamer and the team's No. 4 corner.

--CB Captain Munnerlyn lost his starting job to Terence Newman, but he basically played a starting role on Sunday as the Lions forced the Vikings to stay in their nickel defense throughout most of the game. Munnerlyn played 53 of 78 snaps and led the Vikings in tackles with seven (six solo). He also forced a fumble.

--RB Adrian Peterson had 192 combined net yards, moving him past Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter's career franchise mark. Peterson has 12,577. Carter had 12,410 from 1990-2001.

Related Topics: MINNESOTA VIKINGS
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