It's only been two weeks since their season-opening debacle against the San Francisco 49ers, but with the way the Minnesota Vikings have played the past two weeks, it seems like it was about two months ago.
For the second consecutive week, the Vikings battered an opposing quarterback and rode their all-world running back on offense. They dominated the San Diego Chargers from start to finish on Sunday afternoon at TCF Bank Stadium, en route to a victory.
The two teams each had a turnover early on. After Kyle Rudolph dropped what should have been a touchdown pass from Teddy Bridgewater, Bridgewater lofted one up for Charles Johnson in the end zone that was intercepted by San Diego defensive back Steve Williams for a touchback. Later on in the first quarter, Anthony Barr came in for a strip/sack of Philip Rivers, and Captain Munnerlyn recovered the fumble for the Vikings at the San Diego 13-yard line. The Vikings converted their takeaway into points, although it was only a field goal. Blair Walsh came in and knocked home a 24-yard attempt to give the Vikings the first points of the game at 3-0.
The Vikings got on the board again in the second quarter, thanks to a beautiful drive spearheaded by Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater went 5-for-5 on the drive, including a big 19-yard completion to Mike Wallace to convert a third down and a 17-yard pitch-and-catch with Jarius Wright to get down to the San Diego 5. Two plays later, Adrian Peterson scored his first touchdown since 24 November 2013, going over from two yards out. Blair Walsh hit the extra point, and the Vikings took a 10-0 lead.
It looked like the Chargers would go into the locker room with no points, but Philip Rivers converted a big 3rd-and-18 after the two-minute warning with a big 39-yard pass to Malcolm Floyd. A few plays later, Rivers found Keenan Allen for a 34-yard touchdown pass to cut the Minnesota lead to 10-7 going into the locker room at halftime.
After forcing a three-and-out to start the second half, it took Minnesota one play to get back on the board, as Peterson took a handoff from Bridgewater, stiff-armed a Charger around the right side of the line, and took it to the house for a 43-yard touchdown run. It was Peterson's 93rd touchdown as a Viking, tying him with Randy Moss for second-most in Vikings history behind Cris Carter's 110. Blair Walsh hit the extra point, and the Vikings were on top by ten again at 17-7.
After another San Diego punt, the Vikings put together what might have been their most impressive drive of the season. Starting at their own 14-yard line, they marched 86 yards in 16 plays. The drive was helped by a penalty on the Chargers, as Blair Walsh came on to attempt a field goal, but San Diego's Melvin Ingram was called for defensive holding on the attempt. The Vikings took the field goal off of the board, and got more points as a result. The drive was capped by a 1-yard touchdown plunge from Adr. . .Zach Line to make the score 24-7.
Zach Line is averaging one touchdown per carry in his NFL career so far. Sure, fantasy football players are angry, but that's a pretty impressive number.
The Vikings got on the board again early in the fourth quarter, as the Vikings' graybeard on defense, Chad Greenway, gathered in a pass that was deflected and headed toward the Minnesota sideline. He had a HUGE convoy of purple jerseys around him as he rambled down the field, and went all the way to the end zone for a touchdown. It was a 91-yard pick-six for Greenway, the second of his career, and it put the game out of reach for the Vikings at 31-7.
San Diego got a meaningless touchdown late, as backup quarterback Kellen Clemens found Allen again with :32 left on the clock for a 19-yard touchdown pass to make the score 31-14.
The big key to this one was the Minnesota defense, which absolutely harassed Philip Rivers all afternoon. They sacked him five times, with Everson Griffen collecting two and Sharrif Floyd, Anthony Barr, and Tom Johnson picking up one each. They also hit Rivers on numerous other occasions, and the Chargers eventually lifted Rivers from the game in favor of Kellen Clemens midway through the fourth quarter. For the second consecutive week, they were also solid against the run, allowing the Chargers to rush for just 84 yards on 26 carries on the afternoon.
Peterson led the way on offense again for the Vikings, carrying the ball 20 times for 126 yards and two touchdowns. Teddy Bridgewater was sub-par in this one, completing just 13-of-24 passes for 121 yards and an interception. Mike Wallace was the team's leading receiver with three catches for 49 yards.
For the Chargers, Rivers completed 21-of-34 passes for 246 yards, a touchdown, an interception, and a lost fumble. Clemens, in relief, completed 5-of-6 passes for 63 yards and a touchdown. Rookie running back Melvin Gordon carried the ball 15 times for 58 yards to lead the Chargers in rushing. And, for fantasy football purposes, you're probably pretty happy if you owned Keenan Allen today, as he caught 12 balls for 133 yards and both San Diego touchdowns.
The Vikings climb to 2-1 on the season, and will play a late afternoon game in Week 4 as they travel to the Mile High City to take on the Denver Broncos. The Chargers fall to 1-2 on the season, and they will also be playing a later game next Sunday, as they'll host the Cleveland Browns in San Diego.
The Minnesota Vikings blasted the San Diego Chargers on Sunday by a score of 31-14 in Week 3 action. Thanks to everyone that came here to get their coverage of this weekend's action!