… And That’s It for Former Vikings QB

Detroit Lions fans chant "Let's Go Lions!" as they wait to enter the concourse for the NFC championship game against San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The Detroit Lions melted down on the biggest stage in franchise history Sunday evening, coughing away a 24-7 lead at Levi’s Stadium in the NFC Championship and a trip to the Super Bowl.

… And That’s It for Former Vikings QB

The San Francisco 49ers erased the 17-point deficit — in about 30 minutes of real-time — prevailing over Detroit and heading to Super Bowl LVIII for a rematch from 2019 with the Kansas City Chiefs.

It for Former
Detroit Lions quarterback Teddy Bridgewater waves to fans during warmups before the Denver Broncos game at Ford Field in Detroit on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Quietly, in the aftermath of the Lions’ blunder, it became apparent that former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s career was suddenly over. The ex-Viking didn’t play in the NFC Championship but indicated last month that this season was his final in the NFL.

So, that’s a wrap on Bridgewater’s 10-season adventure, regrettably ending in one of the most devastating collapses in sports history.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

Bridgewater didn’t throw a single pass in 2023, filling QB2 duty for Detroit starter Jared Goff, an iron man per durability this season. But the Lions would’ve been in safe hands had Bridgewater been called upon, classified as one of the NFL’s top QB2s. All told in Bridewater’s starting career, teams were 33-32 (.507) on his watch.

The Miami Dolphins were Bridgewater’s previous employer, as the former Viking served as Tua Tagovailoa’s backup in 2022. This was Bridgewater’s career resume:

  • Minnesota Vikings (2014–2017)
  • New York Jets (2018)
  • New Orleans Saints (2018–2019)
  • Carolina Panthers (2020)
  • Denver Broncos (2021)
  • Miami Dolphins (2022)
  • Detroit Lions (2023-present)

Minnesota selected Bridgewater in Round 1 of the 2014 NFL Draft as the then-long-term plan for the quarterback of the future. Bridgewater took over during his rookie season and immediately looked the part. One season later, combined with Mike Zimmer’s blossoming defense, Minnesota won the NFC North in 2015, and life was good. But the summer of 2016 was a wildly different story. Bridgewater suffered a grisly knee injury right before the start of the regular season, then-GM Rick Spielman traded a 1st-Round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for Sam Bradford, and Bridgewater’s career was forever altered. So was Vikings history.

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Since leaving the Vikings after the freak injury in 2016-2017, teams led by Bridgewater were 16-21 (.432). Scaled to a 17-game season, Bridgewater tossed 20 touchdown passes to 11 interceptions per year. In the past, those numbers would’ve been appetizing — like 20 years ago — but teams have learned that Bridgewater is best suited for QB2. 

Bridgewater was arguably in peak form during a couple of spots in his career. First, in 2015, he earned Pro Bowl honors in just his second campaign, guiding the Vikings to that 2015 playoff appearance that was eventually tainted by a missed 27-yard game-winning field goal against the Seattle Seahawks. When he landed with the Saints, Drew Brees was hurt for multiple games in 2019 — and the Saints were undefeated to the tune of 5-0 with Bridgewater in charge. That was the second peak of his ten-season career.

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In the postseason, with Bridgewater’s career complete — assuming he doesn’t unretire — his only playoff start occurred in the aforementioned 2015 season when Minnesota lost to the Seattle Seahawks thanks to Blair Walsh’s missed field goal.

Bridgewater will turn 32 in November. He tallied a 75-touchdown to 47-interception split in his 10 seasons.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.