Minnesota Vikings vs. Houston Texans: Live Score, Highlights and Analysis
Final Vikings 23, Houston 6
The Minnesota Vikings dominated the Houston Texans for their third road win of the season, and their second three-game winning streak of the season. The Vikings defense was able to hold the third-highest scoring offense to only two field goals.
A matchup of marquee running backs in Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster saw neither finish with 100 yards. Peterson finished with 86 yards on 25 carries. It leaves Peterson 102 yards from rushing for 2,000 for the season. Foster was bottled up all day with only 15 yards on 10 carries.
Once again winning the turnover battle, the Vikings turned two Houston turnovers into 10 points.
Christian Ponder finished 16-of-30 passing for 174 yards and a touchdown. He added another 48 yards on seven scrambles, including a huge 29-yard run that converted a 3rd-and-2 on the Vikings second touchdown drive.
Rookie kicker, Blair Walsh converted another three field goals, including his record-setting ninth consecutive field goal form greater than 50 yards. He hit form 56, 41 and 33 yards.
For the Texans, Matt Schaub finished 18-of-32 for only 178 yards. Andre Johnson led all receivers with seven catches, giving him his fourth 100-catch season.
J.J. Watt was credited with another sack, giving him 20.5 on the season leaving him only two shy of the single season record held by Michael Strahan.
It was a chance for the Texans to wrap up home field through the playoffs.They drop to 12-3 while the Vikings' playoff hopes remain alive. The win moves them to 9-6 on the season.
Final: Vikings 23, Texans 6. So much for this being the Vikings' toughest test of the season.
Christian Ponder played very well, converting several third downs with his arm and feet. His only blemish on the day was a fumble on a J.J. Watt sack—the only sack allowed by the Vikings on the day.
The Vikings got four sacks of defense—none bigger than the one from Fred Evans on a 3rd-and-goal from the 1-yard line.
It pushed the Texans back to the 15-yard line, forcing them to kick a field goal.
The win marked the end of Adrian Peterson's sting of games with at least 100 yards. With 86 yards today, Peterson needs 102 yards against the Packers next week to hit 2,000 yards.
2:00 left in the game: After 25 carries the Vikings have decided to give Adrian Peterson a rest.
Toby Gerhart has been on the field for the last two drives and has 31 yards on eight carries.
While it appears Peterson's string of 100-yard games will come to an end, the Vikings' win streak will go to three games—the second three-game win streak on the season.
The Vikings will go to 9-6 and the Texans will fall to 12-3.
3:14 left in the game: The Texans have thrown in the towel.
With Matt Schaub on the sideline, Harrison Smith forces a fumble on T.J. Yates, giving the Vikings the ball in Houston territory at the 32-yard line.
It's the second turnover for the Texans, both lost fumbles.
4:06 left in the game: I guess this is touch football. The personal foul on Harrison Smith looked clean. He did not lead with the head.
6:58 left in the game: Adrian Peterson needs only 16 more yards for his ninth-consecutive 100-yard game. He has 84 yards on 24 carries.
It's been hard running against the Texans all day.
9:33 left in the game: According to the Fox broadcast, Arian Foster has gone back to the locker room. No explanation is given, other than he has comedown with an illness.
10:45 left in the game: Once again the Minnesota defense comes up big, and the Houston offense comes up short.
A great open-field tackle by rookie safety, Harrison Smith on tight end Garrett Graham forces another Donnie Jones' punt.
Smith, a first-round draft pick from Notre Dame, has been a great upgrade at safety for the Vikings.
12:18 left in the game: A great punt by Chris Kluwe is downed on the 1-yard line by rookie cornerback Josh Robinson.
Things are going the Vikings' way in this game.
For Minnesota fans, the clock cannot wind down fast enough.
14:00 left in the game: Facing a 3rd-and-13, under pressure, running to his left, and throwing the ball up for grabs, Christian Ponder converts another third down with an incredible catch by Jerome Simpson.
Simpson went up high to catch the ball and then, while getting hit is able to get both feet down.
It keeps the offense on the field for another three plays.
Something, some force or karma is on the Vikings' side in this game.
0:26 left in the third quarter: Are you kidding me? The Vikings' defense holds on 3rd-and-goal from the 1-yard line.
The Texans score another field goal to cut the score to 16-6.
It has to feel like a win for the Vikings.
5:43 left in the third quarter: The Texans hold tough with stop on defense. Adrian Peterson is going backwards in the third quarter.
He has 57 yards now in the game on 18 carries. It could spell the end of Peterson's string of 100-yard games, and make 2,000 yards a difficult milestone.
7:58 left in the third quarter: The Houston offense is unable to take advantage of the Christian Ponder fumble.
What momentum that the defense got with the turnover, has been kicked away with Donnie Jones' sixth punt of the game.
9:37 left in the third quarter: On the first sack of the game for the Texans, Houston gets the ball back on a Christian Ponder fumble.
This is exactly what the Texans need in order to shift the momentum.
J.J. Watt gets credit for a half-sack and the forced fumble. It gives the second-year player 20 on the season. Correction—Watt is credited with the full sack, giving him 20.5 on the season.
Which ever team can exert their will on this drive will have a lot to say on the outcome of this game.
9:57 left in the third quarter: The Vikings defense opens the second half in the best way possible. They force the Texans into a 3-and-out on their first drive of the second half, and get the ball back to the offense.
The fans are not happy in Houston as they see their team struggling.
11:30 left in the third quarter: With 10 points in the game, Blair Walsh ties Ryan Longwell for the fifth-highest scoring season in Minnesota franchise history.
What a great draft pick for the Vikings.
13:22 left in the third quarter: This is a critical drive for the Vikings. If they can add extend their lead it will be huge.
Another big third down conversion for the Vikings. A big 3rd-and-10 pass to Jarius Wright.
Now Christian Ponder needs to protect the ball and make sure the Vikings get at least a field goal.
If the Vikings can hang onto yet another improbable win, it will give them some credibility as serious playoff team.
At the same time, if the Texans lose this game, and end up relinquishing the top seed in AFC playoffs, it will feel like a huge disappointment. Losses against the Packers and Patriots can be accepted since these are two contending teams, with great quarterbacks.
The second half, and ultimately the game, will be determined by the coaching staff that makes the best adjustments in the final two quarters.
Halftime: There's no way I would have believed if anyone told the Texans would be losing by 10 points at halftime.
Perhaps the Texans were already planning their home-field-advantage-through-the-playoffs celebration.
1:33 left in the first half: Perhaps all Christian Ponder needed was a wife to settle him down. In his first game after getting married, Ponder looks like a different player. He's 10-of-16 for 119 yards in just a little less than a half.
He's not been sacked and has converted several third downs, with both his arm and his feet.
2:00 left in the first half: Do the Vikings understand that they are playing on the road against the best team in the AFC?
They have allowed Andre Johnson to catch five passes for 64 yards, but so far it's only resulted in three points.
They have been able to bottle up Arian Foster who has 12 yards on eight carries.
The game is a long way from over, and the Vikings will need to play flawlessly if they want to hold onto their lead.
6:13 left in the first half: The Houston Texans answer the 56-yard field goal with a drive stalling at their 48-yard line, forcing a punt.
The boo birds can be heard at Reliant Stadium where the Texans are playing to secure the top seed in the AFC playoffs.
Four Houston drives have resulted in only three points, with two punts and a fumble.
8:15 left in the first half: Blair Walsh hits a 56-yard field goal, with plenty of room to spare to extend the Vikings' lead to 10-3.
Walsh sets a new NFL record for hitting his ninth field goal from greater than 50 yards.
9:20 left in the first half: Another third down conversion keeps the clock running as the Vikings are driving into Houston territory.
12:50 left in the first half: The Vikings don't need to score on this drive, but they need to run some time off the clock, and not give Houston a chance to score.
A critical third down conversion helps. Christian Ponder is showing some poise in the pocket. He is 6-for-7 with 83 yards, with completions to four different receivers.
13:37 left in the first half: The first turnover of the game goes against the Houston Texans. Arian Foster fumbles the ball with the Texans driving in Minnesota territory.
The turnover ends the Texans third drive, and give the Vikings another chance to extend their lead.
The Vikings have not lost a game this season when they win the turnover battle.
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