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Bridgewater leads Vikings over Falcons

Sep 29, 2014 - 2:25 AM Minneapolis, MN ( - Teddy Bridgewater out-gunned Matt Ryan in his first NFL start, so excuse his coach for wanting the rookie quarterback to be OK after he limped off with an ankle injury.

Especially since Bridgewater's Minnesota Vikings are looking at a short week.

"He's going to get an MRI," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said afterward.

Then Zimmer joked: "But I told him he's fine."

Bridgewater passed for 317 yards four days after starter Matt Cassel went on season-ending injured reserve, and the Vikings beat Ryan's Atlanta Falcons 41-28 on Sunday.

Bridgewater, who ran for a touchdown but didn't pass for any, was hurt late in the fourth quarter on a drive that ended with the Vikings taking a gamble on fourth down at the 1-yard line.

It worked, with Matt Asiata's touchdown giving the Vikings the lead for good with 10:50 remaining.

Asiata scored three times and Jerick McKinnon rushed for 135 yards as the Vikings (2-2) won for the first time in three games since star running back Adrian Peterson was indicted on child-abuse charges and deactivated.

Ryan threw for 298 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions for Atlanta (2-2), which played 10 days after its last game, a 56-14 rout of Tampa Bay on Thursday night.

The Vikings, already without Peterson for who knows how long, lost Cassel to a foot injury he suffered last week against New Orleans.

Bridgewater, who was 12-of-20 after taking over for Cassel against the Saints, went 19-of-30 against the Falcons with eight completions to Jarius Wright for 132 yards. Afterward, the first-round pick said he rolled his ankle and that, "It was basically a non-contact injury."

"He put the ball in the right places, made good decisions," said Zimmer, who will now get his team ready for Green Bay on Thursday night. "For those guys to come out and perform like that, it was impressive."

Ryan threw touchdown passes to Roddy White, Devin Hester and Patrick DiMarco and Antone Smith added a 48-yard touchdown run. White returned after missing last game with a hamstring injury.

The Falcons came back three times in the first three quarters and a pair of big plays gave them a one-point lead in the third.

First, Hester caught a pass on the right side, spun around cornerback Captain Munnerlyn for a 36-yard touchdown down the right side. Smith hurdled a would- be tackler and also scored down the right sideline on a 48-yard run that gave the Falcons a 28-27 lead with 1:31 left in the third quarter.

But Zimmer's gamble at the 1 led to Asiata scoring his third touchdown and Rhett Ellison caught Bridgewater's two-point conversion to give the Vikings a 35-28 lead with 10:50 remaining in the game.

"I wanted to score a touchdown," Zimmer said. "They were moving the ball pretty well. But I felt like if they were going to go, they were going to have to go 99 yards."

With Christian Ponder in at quarterback, Blair Walsh added 55- and 33-yard field goals for Minnesota while Ryan was picked off on Atlanta's final two drives.

"Tough loss on the road," said Ryan. "We had a good effort but obviously didn't make enough plays to get the job done."

The teams traded big plays and touchdowns in the first half and the Vikings had a 24-14 lead at the break.

Wright had five catches for 105 yards in the half, including a 52-yard reception on Minnesota's third play that set up Asiata's 3-yard touchdown run.

Ryan found White wide-open for a 24-yard touchdown that tied the score, but Cordarrelle Patterson returned the ensuing kickoff 49 yards for the Vikings, leading to Asiata's 6-yard score.

McKinnon darted and slashed for a 55-yard run on first down for the Vikings early in the second quarter, but Walsh missed a 49-yard try.

The Falcons tied the score on DiMarco's 1-yard touchdown catch after Steven Jackson's knee was ruled down in front of the goal line upon review, negating a score, but the Vikings responded with an 80-yard drive and took a 21-14 lead on Bridgewater's 13-yard scramble.

Walsh tacked on an 18-yard field goal before halftime, then opened the third quarter with a 41-yarder to make it 27-14.

Game Notes

Julio Jones led Atlanta with six catches for 82 yards ... Asiata rushed for 78 yards ... Falcons center Joe Hawley was carted off the field in the third quarter with an apparent leg injury ... Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway's streak of 115 straight games played ended because of a broken hand and broken rib. He had played in every Vikings game since 2007 ... Falcons wide receiver Harry Douglas (foot) missed the game ... The Falcons will play the New York Giants on the road next Sunday.