The Atlanta Falcons started with the ball at their own 31-yard line as the second quarter got underway, and the Minnesota Vikings faced a big 3rd-and-1 after an Antone Smith run. On third down, it appeared that Linval Joseph and Brian Robison had a sack of Matt Ryan, but a penalty for illegal contact on Xavier Rhodes negated it and kept the Atlanta drive going. The Vikings forced another third down, and this time held the Falcons and forced them to punt the ball away.
Minnesota took over at their own 8-yard line after Marcus Sherels let the punt go over his head and the Falcons downed it. The drive got off to an incredible start, as rookie running back Jerick McKinnon took a a delayed handoff from Bridgewater and rumbled for 55 yards down to the Falcons 37-yard line. The drive eventually stalled after Bridgewater's first two NFL incompletions (one of which was a drop by McKinnon), and Blair Walsh came on and. . .missed a 47-yard field goal attempt wide to the right. I did a post on him earlier in the week. . .therefore, I take full responsibility for the miss. My apologies.
The miss gave Atlanta good field position at their own 39-yard line to start their next drive. The Falcons got another big third down conversion to Roddy White to get into Minnesota territory. A couple of penalties on the Falcons pushed them back and brought up another third down, and they converted a 3rd-and-20 as Ryan found Roddy White again for 21 yards. The Falcons faced another third down, and it looked like the Vikings would shut it down after a bad snap to Matt Ryan. However, Ryan avoided the rush and hit Levine Toilolo for a first down to the three. Steven Jackson got the ball inside the one on first-and-goal, and Matt Ryan found Patrick DiMarco for a 1-yard touchdown pass to even the score at 14.
Matt Bosher sent the ensuing kickoff through the end zone, and the Vikings started out at the 20-yard line. Three carries for Matt Asiata picked up 20 yards. . .yes, that Matt Asiata. . .and the Vikings were on the move again. Teddy Bridgewater found Rhett Ellison for 19 yards, and then hit Jarius Wright for 21 more to put the Vikings into Atlanta's red zone once again. Bridgewater then finished the drive with a 13-yard touchdown scramble on 2nd-and-8 to put the Vikings back ahead 21-14.
The Falcons. . .you guessed it. . .started the next drive at their own 20 following a touchback. The Vikings stopped the Falcons cold with a three-and-out, and they took over at their own 15-yard line with 1:25 left in the half and all three of their time outs. Three runs by Jerick McKinnon got the ball to the Minnesota 34 and caused the Falcons to burn two of their three time outs. A short pass to McKinnon got the ball into Atlanta territory, and another pass to Jarius Wright picked up 25 yards down to the Falcons' 24-yard line. Bridgewater then found Chase Ford for 17 yards to the Atlanta 7 for a first-and-goal. McKinnon then took a handoff from Bridgewater and found his way down inside the 1-yard line (it was originally ruled a touchdown), and the Vikings couldn't convert on an attempted pass to Chase Ford on second down. Blair Walsh came in and knocked through a 19-yard field goal to give the Vikings a 24-14 lead going into the locker room.
Bridgewater has been nothing short of phenomenal thus far, completing 11-of-16 passes for 197 yards. He has also run twice for 16 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown. Jerick McKinnon is the team's leading rusher, with 79 yards on just five carries, and Matt Asiata has carried the ball 11 times for 52 yards and two touchdowns. Jarius Wright is the team's leading receiver, collecting five grabs for a career-high 105 yards in the first half. (That's his career high for a game, not a half, obviously.) Greg Jennings has 29 yards receiving, Rhett Ellison has 19, and Ford and McKinnon have 17 yards each. Asiata has thrown in two catches for 10 yards.
The Minnesota Vikings lead the Atlanta Falcons by a score of 24-14 at halftime at TCF Bank Stadium. Can they keep it up during the second half of play?