Perfect through five games, the upstart Minnesota Vikings are a team built around a rugged defense playing at a Super Bowl level here in October.
The offense, though, has also been core to the team's early surge, led by the unlikely play of quarterback Sam Bradford. Leading an attack on Sunday that was stripped of the signal-caller (Teddy Bridgewater), star running back (Adrian Peterson) and flashy receiver (Stefon Diggs) the team planned to enter the year with, Bradford shredded Houston with one pretty pass after the next in a 31-13 crushing of the hot-and-cold Texans.
"Have you not seen that guy back there? He's unbelievable," said Vikings left guard Alex Boone, per the team's official website. "Just his ability to pick this offense up and do a phenomenal job. He's getting the ball out quick, he's making the offensive line look good. The throws he makes are phenomenal, he's just dropping dimes out there."
With Diggs out of the mix -- and little run game to speak of -- Bradford turned Adam Thielen into his top target, connecting with the third-year receiver seven times for 127 yards and a touchdown. He also showed chemistry with Cordarrelle Patterson -- who up until now has served as a raging enigma in Vikings Land -- while making the most of guys like Jarius Wright and Matt Asiata.
"I think just us being together, learning how we play together," Bradford said of an offense that has hopscotched every obstacle in its way. "I think a little bit of it, too. is when you lose Adrian against Green Bay that kind of changed things a little bit."
That's been the case, as the Vikings have effectively shifted their focus to a passing game that aims to include as many players as possible.
"I think you've seen more spread from us," Bradford said. "I think you've seen some of the gun runs, more of the quick-game passing attacks from the shotgun. I think that's a little bit different than what the offense has done in the past. I think it's just us getting to know each other, us getting familiar with where we're going as an offense. But, I think it's just guys buying in."
Having endured years of injury woes on less-than-stellar teams, Bradford's overdue success is not lost on his teammates.
"I think from the first day (Bradford) came in, just after the way he practices and stays after it and is locked in," Thielen said. "It's pretty easy to get comfortable with a guy like that and a guy that trusts whoever's in there."