To start the second quarter, the Denver Broncos found themselves facing a 3rd-and-14 from their own 8-yard line against the Minnesota Vikings, and the Vikings ended Denver's drive with a sack of Peyton Manning by Eric Kendricks. It was the first sack of his career, and forced the Broncos to punt from the shadow of their own goal posts. Britton Colquitt gave the Broncos a little bit of room, but his punt only went to the Minnesota 48, giving the Vikings good field position to start their third possession of the afternoon.
The Vikings quickly found themselves facing third down, but Teddy Bridgewater found rookie Stefon Diggs for a big 25-yard pass down to the Denver 23-yard line. However, the Vikings could only reach the 20-yard line, and brought in Blair Walsh for a 37-yard field goal attempt. . .which he promptly missed wide to the left. Not a great way to end the drive, and it still left the Vikings down by a score of 3-0 with just under 12 minutes remaining in the half.
And it didn't take long for the Broncos to make the Vikings pay, as on Denver's first play of the next drive they gave the ball to Ronnie Hillman, who blasted down the field for a 72-yard touchdown run. Brandon McManus put home the extra point for Denver, and the Vikings suddenly found themselves down 10-0.
On the next kickoff, a penalty on the return forced the Vikings to start their next drive at their own 5-yard line, and they promptly went three-and-out. Denver started from their own 43 after a good punt by Jeff Locke, and they quickly pushed into Minnesota territory after a pass from Peyton Manning to Demaryius Thomas went for 30 yards down to the Minnesota 23-yard line. However, the Minnesota defense stiffened once again and limited the Broncos to a field goal try. McManus came in again and hit his second of the day, this one from 47 to extend the Denver lead to 13-0 with just under six minutes remaining.
On their next drive, the Vikings got a break when a sack of Bridgewater was negated by a defensive holding penalty on Aqib Talib, allowing their drive to continue moving. Soon after, Bridgewater found Stefon Diggs again for another big play, this one for 24 yards down to the Denver 31-yard line. Bridgewater then scrambled for 11 yards on the next third down play to get to the Denver 20 at the two-minute warning. However, Bridgewater had three straight incompletions out of the two-minute warning, and the Vikings once again brought in Blair Walsh for a field goal attempt. And, in a strange turn of events, Walsh actually knocked the kick home from 38 yards out to cut the Denver lead to 13-3.
Denver looked to be marching the ball downfield at the end of the first half, but Peyton Manning threw a pass right to Anthony Barr. . .who, unfortunately for Manning (and fortunately for us) plays for the Vikings. The linebacker gathered up his first NFL interception and rumbled into Denver territory to the 32-yard line. Denver was then called for 12 men on the field to push the ball to the 27 with 0:23 left in the half. Bridgewater then found Mike Wallace on a pass to the Denver 4-yard line, and then hit Wallace again for a 4-yard touchdown pass to close the gap further. Blair Walsh added the extra point, and the Vikings went into the locker room down just 13-10.
The stat sheet, as you can probably imagine, doesn't look terribly pretty for the Vikings. Adrian Peterson has ten carries thus far, but has only managed 28 yards and hasn't had a run of longer than 8 yards thus far. Teddy Bridgewater has completed 14-of-26 passes so far for 138 yards and a touchdown, all while being absolutely under siege all afternoon. Bridgewater's favorite target thus far has been Wallace, who has six catches for 54 yards and a touchdown in one half of play. Stefon Diggs has acquitted himself quite well in his NFL debut, as he's grabbed four passes for 59 yards thus far. Adam Thielen has chipped in with two grabs for 21 yards.
For the Broncos, Manning has attempted just 14 passes thus far, completing nine of them for 109 yards and the crucial interception near the end of the half. Demaryius Thomas has been the recipient of seven of Manning's completions for 74 yards. C.J. Anderson and Owen Daniels each have one catch. Hillman's 72-yard touchdown is his only carry of the game, as he stands as the Broncos' leading rusher at halftime.
The Minnesota Vikings trail the Denver Broncos at halftime by a score of 13-10. . .which, after the relatively disastrous start that Minnesota got off to, is about as good as they could hope for. Can they continue mounting a comeback in the second half after score the last ten points of the first half?