By David McCoy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Vikings were so far ahead Sunday they did what a lot of teams like to do when possible — get their backup quarterback in the game to get some reps, in case he’s needed in the playoffs.

Except, it’s not your ordinary backup-quarterback-entering-the-game situation when it’s Teddy Bridgewater making his return.

The noise was deafening — a standing ovation so loud, Teddy Bridgewater had to cover his ears just to hear the play call.

“It was amazing. Hearing the crowd chanting and things like that,” he said.

“Great just being out there. I have a ton of people to thank, for getting me to this point. I can’t name them all, but it was just a huge milestone, and to be able to go out there, call plays in the huddle, look the guys in the eye, sell hope to those guys, it was a great feeling.”

It had been 23 months — 707 days — since Bridgewater had last played in a game that wasn’t an exhibition. And it seemed like maybe his teammates were even more happy than he was.

“I was pumped. I really was,” Case Keenum said. “I was so excited for Teddy to get back out there. He’s such a good dude. And I have the utmost respect for him. I may have been one of the guys trying to start the ‘Teddy’ chant there.”

“It was just great to be back out there with Teddy. It’s been amazing watching him battle back,” Jerick McKinnon said. “To get out there and get the ovation that he did and that he deserves.”

“It was special,” Stefon Diggs said. “Everybody was there when he went down, and to see him come back, and get back in the game it was special for everybody to see. Heartwarming for sure, for everybody, and the fans and everybody in the stadium. You felt the energy.”

“The way I see it, you have a group of men in this locker room, who uplifted their brother, throughout a hard time in his life. And to see them so supportive of me, it motivated me,” Bridgewater said.

“I’m fortunate to pick up right where my dream left off. So that right there, nothing tops that. I’m happy that I was able to experience it at home, in front of this crowd. They’ve been so supportive of me also. Through the tweets, emails, messages, it’s just a great experience today.”

A day a long time coming.

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