Unfortunately for the Texans, the rest of the Vikings showed up on the field, too. Houston did everything they could to clog the running lanes and get Adrian Peterson running sideways, and with remarkable success. Peterson got a few good runs (25 carries for 86 yards on the day), but generally was not able to find running room. Earlier this year, you’d then assume that the Vikings lost the game by a couple of touchdowns, with a disproportional share of the time-of-possession for Houston, but both assumptions would be incorrect.
Minnesota’s defence looked better than they’ve been in years (according to one Twitter update, this is the fewest points they’ve allowed in a regular season game since the 2007 season opener). The Vikings passing game was not stellar, but it got the job done — especially on the opening drive with some excellent work by Christian Ponder and his receivers (who also had a much better than average game).
My favourite tweet from the end of the game:
And the #Vikings victory officially eliminates the New Orleans Saints* from the post-season chase. In case you needed more to celebrate.
— The Daily Norseman (@DailyNorseman) December 23, 2012
While Adrian Peterson didn’t set the NFL rushing record today, The Blair Walsh Project did set a record: “Minnesota’s Blair Walsh kicked a 56-yard field goal against the Houston Texans to set an NFL record with nine field goals of 50 yards or longer this season. [...] The record was held by two players who had eight in a season. Jason Hanson of Detroit did it in 2008 and Morten Andersen had eight in 1995 with Atlanta.”
Andrew Garda for Bleacher Report:
The stats aren’t huge or anything, but Ponder played one of his better games all season and certainly his best game in the last two months.
Ponder avoided mistakes and, while he regressed for a bit in the second half, made very smart decisions. The offensive line, normally better at run blocking than pass blocking, did a great job of keeping defensive player of the year front-runner J.J. Watt in check, limiting him (and the Texans as a whole) to just one sack.
[. . .]
For a defense which struggled to tackle well and wrap up quarterbacks and running backs alike in the backfield, the four sacks were a big step forward. They assaulted Matt Schaub and kept him from getting anything going. Rookie Harrison Smith was tremendous in the secondary, showing great instincts, hard hitting (which caused a fumble) and a nose for the football.