Sunday, September 16, 2012

Penalties and Miscues Lead to Vikings 23-20 Loss to Colts

Kyle Rudolph's tip of this pass, led to a
Vikings touchdown, but it wasn't enough
as the Vikings lose to the Indianapolis
Colts 23-20
The Minnesota Vikings traveled to Indianapolis in hopes of a victory before the San Francisco 49ers come to town in week 3. Sloppy play along with turnovers and other miscues caused the Vikings to struggle at Lucas Oil Stadium, resulting in a 23-20 loss.

The Vikings began the day with a a positive drive, negated by a holding call by Charlie Johnson. This led to a 51-yard field goal by rookie Blair Walsh, who continued his consistent play. The defense allowed the Colts to march up the field, led by several key receptions by Donnie Avery, caped by an Andrew Luck 3-yard pass to Dwayne Allen for a touchdown. The Vikings displayed poor tackling and allowed Luck to escape the pocket on a frequent basis. This gave him the freedom to get separation long enough to make a decision down the field. As discussed before the game, the Vikings needed a better pass rush during this contest, which was again as poor as last week. Despite the Colts missing 4 of their 5 starting offensive lineman, the Vikings still couldn't get to the quarterback and this is completely unacceptable. With one of the best defensive lines from a season ago, this is mind boggling.

The Vikings continued a valiant attempt to answer the first touchdown, as Percy Harvin caught the ensuing kickoff by Adam Vinatieri 7-yard deep in his own end zone and went 50 yards to the Vikings 43. Harvin then led the next Vikings possession, by amassing a total of 20 yards on the drive, but the Vikings drive stalled at the Colts 11 and Blair Walsh came on to kick a 29-yard field goal.

Indianapolis went three-and-out on its following offensive series, as the Vikings defense showed some resilience.The Vikings began to swing momentum in their direction, but the drive ended, as quarterback Christian Ponder lost the ball while being sacked by linebacker Jerrell Freeman. Defensive end Cory Redding recovered the football around the 50 yard line and the Colts regained possession.

This key event resulted in a 26-yard field goal by veteran Adam Vinatieri.

Marcus Sherels returned the ensuing kickoff and made the poor decision to come out his own end zone from 8 yards deep. He got to the Vikings 15-yard line, which gave the Vikings a long field to work with. Ponder threw two incompletions and completed a short pass to Michael Jenkins, but the Vikings were forced to punt. This was a terrible possession, as the Vikings ran three plays in 27 seconds, which gave the Colts one more chance before halftime.

On the next drive, Luck scrambled for a 7-yard gain, but on third-and-3, Luck found wide receiver Reggie Wayne over the middle for a touchdown. With seven seconds remaining in the first half, the Colts went into halftime with a 17-6 lead.

Just as many thought the game couldn't get any worse, destruction began in the second half of this game.

The Vikings defense came out of halftime as a fired up group. The Colts drive early in the quarter stalled and punter Pat McAfee came on to punt. Vikings special teams ace, Andrew Sendejo, was called for a 15-yard roughing the kicker call on the punt, which continued a Colts drive.

On a third and long, Luck scrambled for 1 yard, but was hit out of bounds by Vikings defensive end Jared Allen. This resulted in another poor decision, which led to a 15-yard penalty, keeping the drive alive once again. The Vikings defense responded and the drive eventually ended with a 45-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal that gave Indianapolis a 20-6 lead.

The Vikings began to rally in the fourth quarter and on fourth and 4 Christian Ponder threw a pass from the shotgun that was tipped by Corey Redding and then was tipped once again by tight end Kyle Rudolph. It magically landed in the hands of wide receiver Stephen Burton for a touchdown with 5:07 left.

The Vikings defense held strong and forced the Colts to a three and out, which was caped by a Everson Griffen sack on third and 5, resulting in a 22 yard loss.

The Vikings got the ball back with 2:50 left in the fourth quarter. Percy Harvin continued to be Ponder's main target down the stretch, but Harvin began to battle cramping in his legs and had to leave the game. He later returned after drinking pickle juice to relieve the pain in his calf area.

Ponder then hit on passes to Michael Jenkins on two consecutive plays. Michael Jenkins once again stepped up when the Vikings needed him to make a play. On third-and-9, Ponder found Adrian Peterson for a 20-yard gain.

This spotted the ball at the ten yard line, with nearly 40 seconds remaining. The Vikings tied the score as Ponder connected pass with Kyle Rudolph over the middle for a touchdown.

This wasn't the end of the contest, as the Colts had 31 seconds to get into field goal range, from their own 20 yard-line.

Andrew Luck connected with Donnie Avery for 20 yards and Reggie Wayne for another 20 yards. On the next play, an offside penalty on the Vikings put the ball at the Minnesota 35 and Vinatieri hit a 53 yarder to defeat the Minnesota Vikings 23-20.

Overall, the Vikings looked like a completely different team from the previous week vs. Jacksonville. The defense remained strong in some spots, but let the Colts claw back at end of the game. The offense struggled during the first three quarters, but responded nicely down the stretch. The Vikings were very lucky to even be in a spot to potentially win this game, as penalties and poor decisions by players on the Vikings defense, cost the Vikings key yardage and possessions.

The Vikings will take a look at the tape later this evening and won't be pleased with what they witness, but they only have a short time to dwell on their mistakes, as the NFC's best San Francisco 49ers travel to Mall of America Field this Sunday. The hill only gets steeper from here and the Vikings will face much fiercer competition over the next few weeks. Next week will be a true test of the Vikings mental response, as they will need to fix all the mistakes which led to a terrible performance today.

We will keep you posted with the latest information leading up to next week's game vs. the San Francisco 49ers.

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