The Minnesota Vikings got to receive the kickoff to start the second half from the Atlanta Falcons, and they got to a good start as Cordarrelle Patterson took the ball to the Minnesota 34-yard line. Charlie Johnson was flagged for a false start before the first play, but a screen to Matt Asiata and a short pass to Patterson made up for that and got the Vikings into Atlanta territory quickly. Teddy Bridgewater then scrambled for another first down, and the Vikings got to a 4th-and-1 situation from the Atlanta 23-yard line. The Vikings called a time out to talk about it. . .and then elected to kick a field goal. Blair Walsh knocked it through from 41 yards out, and the Vikings extended their lead to 27-14 with just under 11 minutes left in the third quarter.
The Falcons. . .sing it along with me. . .started their next drive at the 20 after a touchback. The Falcons moved the ball down the field with a nice mix of run and pass, and found themselves facing another big third down, this time 3rd-and-7 from the Minnesota 36-yard line. Matt Ryan flipped a short pass to Devin Hester, who shook off a tackle for Captain Munnerlyn and, thanks to some really awful tackling, took the ball into the end zone for a 36-yard score to cut the Minnesota lead to 27-21.
On the ensuing kickoff, Patterson. . .took a knee? Yes, he took a knee on purpose. So, the Vikings started out at their own 20-yard line. Bridgewater found Greg Jennings for a quick first down, and then found Jarius Wright for another first down to midfield. It appeared that the drive had stalled on a short pass to Wright, but a defensive holding penalty on the Falcons allowed it to continue on. Vladimir Ducasse was called for holding on first down to push the Vikings back, and the Vikings' drive then stalled out, forcing Jeff Locke to punt for the first time on the afternoon. Locke's punt went. . .24 yards. Yeah, it was as bad as it sounded. A holding penalty on the Vikings made it a net of 14 yards on the punt.
The Falcons started the next drive on their own 37-yard line, and they took advantage. They converted another third down on a 15-yard pass from Matt Ryan to Roddy White, and then Antone Smith took a handoff and streaked 48 yards around right end for a touchdown, with the extra point giving Atlanta their first lead of the day at 28-27.
In their last seven quarters of football, the Vikings defense has allowed opponents to convert 19-of-26 on third down. That. . .that's not good.
After another touchback, the Vikings took over at their own 20-yard line. The Vikings, for the first time on the day, went three-and-out, with Bridgewater narrowly missing Jarius Wright on a deep pass that would have gone for six. Locke got off a much better punt, and the Vikings contained Devin Hester enough to keep the Falcons at their own 30-yard line.
The Falcons took a shot deep for Julio Jones at the end of the quarter, but Xavier Rhodes made a nice play to break up the pass. The Falcons are now looking at a 3rd-and-5 from their own 35-yard line. One of the Falcons' offensive linemen went down with an injury at the end of the quarter, and the Falcons now only have four active offensive linemen, having lost others to injuries. Tight end Levine Toilolo appears to be lining up at right tackle for the Falcons at this point.
The Vikings trail the Falcons 28-27 as we move to the fourth quarter of play at TCF Bank Stadium. Can the Vikings keep this one from slipping away?