New Orleans -- The Saints loss to the Panthers on Sunday wasn't pretty, but it marked a significant career milestone for back-up quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. He made his first NFL start since 2015 and threw his first touchdown since that same season. The touchdown was a 9-yard pass to rookie Tre'Quan Smith early in the 4th quarter for their first points of the game.
"It's very satisfying," Bridgewater said. "You get a thrill from moments like those. You watch throughout the week. Guys prepare and we prepare for situational football. We got an opportunity in the red zone today and Tre'Quan did a great job of coming through, making a big catch for us."
Bridgewater, who's in his 5th season in the NFL, was making the start for Drew Brees, who was inactive for Sunday's regular season finale since the Saints had already clinched the top seed in the NFC. But Brees was still very much apart of the action-- helping coach-up Bridgewater from the sidelines.
"He's a guy you can lean on when he's not out there," Bridgewater said. "That's something I learned today. He's a second pair of eyes and it's not just any pair of eyes. This is a guy who has a ton of playing experience and will go down as one of the best quarterbacks to play this game. So when you can come off the field and listen to Drew tell you what he saw and make the corrections and go back out there, it serves as a bonus to you."
After suffering a knee injury in 2016, it's been a long road back to this point. Bridgewater was with the Vikings for his first four seasons, then signed with the Jets this past off-season, and then in August was traded from the Jets to the Saints. Since the trade, he had only attempted one pass in the previous four games he's listed as seeing game action. Sunday he finished 14 of 22 passing for 118 yards. He threw one interception and the one touchdown pass to Smith and was sacked twice. He also rushed 4 times for 12 yards.
"That was my biggest goal coming into today -- just getting back into the rhythm, calling plays, looking those guys in the eyes and instilling that confidence into those guys," Bridgewater said. "It was a fun feeling. It definitely feels a little different than it did 3 years ago but the game is still the same but it was just a one of a kind experience."