Vikings smother Texans, earn 5-0 record
MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Vikings sprinted to a big early lead, and played their evolving brand of smothering defense to remain unbeaten in 2016 with a 31-13 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday.The Vikings (5-0) led 24-0 in the second quarter...
MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Vikings sprinted to a big early lead, and played their evolving brand of smothering defense to remain unbeaten in 2016 with a 31-13 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday.
The Vikings (5-0) led 24-0 in the second quarter, putting up points on three of their first four drives, and held Houston to just a pair of field goals until late in the game. Playing their first daytime game at U.S. Bank Stadium, Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford thrived even without his top receiver, completing 22 of 30 passes for 271 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He has zero turnovers in four games with the Vikings.
Houston (3-2) failed to find a rhythm with quarterback Brock Osweiler under siege. He was sacked a season-high four times and went 19-of-42 passing with a touchdown and an interception, while the Texans gained just 59 yards on the ground - 39 of those coming on their lone touchdown drive. The Vikings kept the Texans out of the end zone until Osweiler’s one-yard pass to DeAndre Hopkins with 3:46 to play.
Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen, who had 13 catches this season entering the game, started in place of the injured Stefon Diggs and had a career day, catching seven passes for 127 yards and a touchdown.
Despite losing starting guard Brandon Fusco to a concussion on the opening drive, Bradford shredded the Texans in the first quarter and Minnesota sprinted to a 14-0 lead. He hit Thielen with a 36-yard pass to cap the opening drive, and got a 1-yard run from Matt Asiata to make it a two-touchdown lead with the opening quarter barely half over.
The Texans got a short field for their fourth drive, taking over at the Minnesota 38, but were unable to advance and settled for a long field goal try. Nick Novak’s 51-yard attempt went wide right. Vikings defense held Houston without a first down in the opening quarter.
Houston stopped the Vikings offense at the one-yard line, where they settled for a 19-yard Blair Walsh field goal to make it 17-0, and the Minnesota special teams made it 24-0 when Marcus Sherels returned a punt 79 yards. Sherels tied the franchise record for punt return touchdowns, with the fifth of his career.
The Texans, who were 1 of 13 on third down, finally sustained a drive late in the first half, getting Novak field goals from 38 and 30 yards out, for a 24-6 Minnesota lead at halftime.
Minnesota has a bye before traveling to face the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 23. The Texans are at home to face the Colts next week.
NOTES: Texans CB Kareem Jackson was deactivated due to a hamstring injury. Kevin Johnson started at cornerback and the Texans lost three more starters from the secondary during the game. Among Houston’s injuries Sunday were S Quintin Demps (calf), CB Jonathan Joseph (concussion), G Jeff Allen (concussion), LB Brian Peters (quad). TE Ryan Griffin was carted off after suffering a neck injury in the third quarter. ... The Vikings lost G Brandon Fusco (concussion) and TE MyCole Pruitt (knee) during the game.
Minnesota 31, Houston 13
Houston 0 6 0 7 - 13
Minnesota 14 10 0 7 - 31
MIN-Thielen 36 yard pass from Bradford (Walsh kick), 11:23.
MIN-Asiata 1 yard rush (Walsh kick), 6:28.
MIN-Walsh 19 yard field goal, 9:58.
MIN-Sherels 79 yard punt return (Walsh kick), 8:46.
HOU-Novak 38 yard field goal, 5:42.
HOU-Novak 30 yard field goal, 1:37.
MIN-Patterson 9 yard pass from Bradford (Walsh kick), 14:09.
HOU-De.Hopkins 1 yard pass from Osweiler (Novak kick), 3:46.
First Downs 16 22
Total Net Yards 214 351
Rushes-Yds 14-59 37-96
Passing 155 255
Sacked-Yds Lost 4-29 2-16
Comp-Att-Int 19-42-1 22-30-0
Punts 5-51.4 5-46.2
Punt Returns 3-47 4-100
Kickoff Returns 3-68 3-50
Interceptions Ret. 0-0 1-2
Penalties-Yards 4-15 9-97
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 0-0
Time of Possession 22:32 37:28
RUSHING- HOU, Blue 6-39, L.Miller 8-20. MIN, Asiata 14-55, McKinnon 20-36, Patterson 1-7, Bradford 2-(minus 2).
PASSING- HOU, Osweiler 19-42-1-184. MIN, Bradford 22-30-0-271.
RECEIVING- HOU, De.Hopkins 5-56, Strong 5-39, Fiedorowicz 4-61, R.Griffin 2-8, B.Miller 1-12, L.Miller 1-4, W.Fuller 1-4. MIN, Thielen 7-127, Patterson 4-39, Jr.Wright 4-32, Asiata 3-46, Rudolph 2-15, McKinnon 1-10, Ca.Johnson 1-2.
MISSED FIELD GOALS- HOU, Novak 1. MIN, None