It's halftime at the Metrodome, and in what can charitably be described as an unexpected development, the Minnesota Vikings find themselves trailing the Cleveland Browns by a score of
It didn't take long for the 7-7 tie to be broken as the second quarter got underway. Brian Hoyer connected on his second touchdown pass of the afternoon, finding tight end Jordan Cameron wide open in the end zone for a 19-yard completion to make the score 14-7 in favor of the road team.
The Vikings needed to answer, and that's just what they did, as they put together a second 80-yard touchdown drive. The drive was highlighted by a 37-yard connection from Christian Ponder to Cordarrelle Patterson, and concluded with a 6-yard touchdown run by Ponder on a quarterback draw. Ponder went 4-for-4 passing on the drive.
On the next drive, it looked like the Vikings had the Browns stopped, but Cleveland ran a huge fake punt and someone named Josh Aubrey ran the ball for 33 yards down to the Minnesota 27-yard line. The Vikings did eventually stop the Browns, as they brought on Billy Cundiff for a 38-yard field goal to make the score 17-14.
The next Minnesota drive saw Christian Ponder. . .who had played very well to that point. . .intercepted by Browns' safety T.J. Ward on a deflected pass. It was a poor decision by Ponder, as he was attempting to hit Jerome Simpson in what appeared to be at least double coverage. That set the Browns up at the Minnesota 38-yard line, and it looked like the Vikings had the Browns stopped again, but they threw out another fake, this one on a field goal attempt, and Spencer Lanning hit Cameron again for another touchdown, making the score 24-14.
That gave the Browns more points than they had scored in their first two games combined.
Minnesota again went three-and-out, but Browns' punt returner Travis Benjamin botched the punt return, and it was recovered by Larry Dean at the Cleveland 26-yard line. Then the Vikings were assessed a 15-yard penalty on Leslie Frazier for challenging a play that was only able to be challenged by the booth. Frazier wanted to challenge that Benjamin had possession of the ball, which would have made it a fumble (which could be advanced) and not a muff (which can not), pushing the Vikings back to the Cleveland 41. The Vikings wound up settling for a 43-yard Blair Walsh field goal to make the score 24-17.
I'm not sure if the call on Frazier should have been a 15-yard penalty. Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots on CBS were saying that the Vikings should have merely lost a time out on the call. That was seconded by former official Mike Pereira.
correction: Minnesota coach should not have been flagged 15 yards, should have been a charged timeout (they had 3 left). It's a new rule.— Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) September 22, 2013
The Browns appeared to be driving, but Harrison Smith put a stop to that, as he racked up his second interception in as many weeks and set the Vikings up again in Cleveland territory at the 46-yard line. The Vikings got it to first-and-goal, and Ponder threw a nice pass to Greg Jennings in the end zone that Jennings couldn't come down with. On second down, Ponder was sacked for the third time on the afternoon and fumbled. The ball was recovered by Cleveland, and that ended the first half.
Thus far, Ponder is 15-of-22 for 165 yards and a rushing touchdown. Unfortunately, he's also turned the ball over twice. Adrian Peterson has 14 carries for 47 yards and a touchdown on the afternoon. The Vikings have managed to make Brian Hoyer look like the second coming of Brian Sipe thus far, as he's completed 14-of-23 for 174 yards and two touchdowns to go along with an interception. His main target has been Josh Gordon, who already has 103 yards and a touchdown on just four receptions.
It's 24-17 in favor of the Browns as we start the second half at the Metrodome. The team wearing purple really, really needs to get things turned around in a hurry.