Adrian Peterson didn’t have the type of game he was use to having as of late, but it was his teammates that picked him up Sunday in an upset win over the Texans 23-6.
Peterson rushed for 86 yards, falling far short of the 2,000-yard mark, but the Vikings improved to 9-6, and they keep their playoff hopes alive in the victory.
Christian Ponder threw a touchdown pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph, and Toby Gerhart added a score and Blair Walsh kicked three field goals in the win for Minnesota.
Walsh made a career-long and team record 56-yard field goal with 8:15 left until half to make it 10-3 Minnesota. He set an NFL single-season record with his ninth 50-yard plus field goal.
The Vikings added another field goal before the half. Jarius Wright’s 21-yard catch led to a 41-yard Walsh field goal, making it 13-3 with 37 seconds remaining.
Walsh connected on another kick on Minnesota’s first possession of the second half. Peterson recorded a 21-yard run on the second play. Wright added a 15- yard catch and a roughing the passer penalty moved the ball to the Houston 22. Walsh made a 39-yard field goal to make it 16-3.
Ponder fumbled while being sacked on the next possession for the Vikings, however, despite taking over at the Minnesota 45, Houston was forced to punt.
The Texans seemed poised to score a touchdown late in the third period. Andre Johnson caught passes of 19 and 14 yards before Kevin Walter hauled in a 12- yard pass. On 3rd-and-goal from the one, Houston QB Matt Schaub was sacked for a loss of 14 yards. Houston settled for a 33-yard Graham field goal to cut the gap to 16-6 with 26 seconds to go.
Gerhart capped the scoring with a 3-yard rushing touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Peterson had his lowest rushing total since getting 79 yards on October 14th in a loss at Washington, breaking a streak of eight 100-yard games. He has 1,898 this season and needs 208 yards to break the NFL single-season rushing record held by Eric Dickerson.
Ponder was 16 of 30 for 174 yards to help the Vikings pile up 345 yards. He finished with seven rushes for 48 yards – 14 more yards rushing than the Texans had.
Houston leading rusher Arian Foster had 10 rushes for 15 yards before leaving with about nine minutes left in the third quarter with an irregular heartbeat.
The Vikings will look to get to 10-6 next week as they take on the Packers at home.