By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings fell to the Indianapolis Colts 23-20 Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
After pulling off an improbable late comeback in the first week of the season, the Vikings nearly did it again. The Colts (1-1) led most of the way, but the Vikings scored a pair of late touchdowns to tie the game with 31 seconds remaining.
Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck answered with a four-play, 45-yard drive that resulted in a game-winning field goal by Adam Vinatieri from 53-yards out. The Vikings had one last chance with eight seconds remaining, but two pass plays got the ball to the Colt 46-yard line and no farther.
In the final 10 minutes and 10 seconds, with the Vikings trailing 20-6, Christian Ponder completed 14-21 passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns to get the game tied.
Stephen Burton got the rally started by catching his first NFL touchdown with five minutes and seven seconds remaining. Ponder’s pass was initially tipped at the line of scrimmage before Kyle Rudolph lept to make the catch. Once Rudolph got his hands on the ball, a defensive back knocked the ball away and right into the lap of the second-year receiver.
Rudolph later made his redemption by hauling in a six-yard touchdown pass with 31 seconds remaining to tie the game.
Blair Walsh continued his perfect season by making two more field goals, including a 51-yarder on the opening drive of the game. He is now a perfect six-for-six on field goals through two games this season.
The Vikings’ offense once again showed some good things, but for the most part, could not move the ball consistently. The offense moved the ball in the first quarter, but made mistakes that kept it from scoring more than three points. It stalled in the second and third quarters before picking up play in the fourth.
The positive for Vikings’ fans is that Ponder has led the offense to two game-tying scores in the final minute of each game. The entire offense now needs to do it more consistently over the duration of the four quarters.
The Vikings’ defense made one play. Everson Griffen sacked Luck with three minutes remaining to set up the game-tying touchdown. Other than that, Luck could do no wrong. The defensive line got close, but was able to hit the rookie quarterback just five times, including two sacks.
Walsh was two-for-two on field goals. The rookie has been perfect on all six field goal attempts this season, including a long of 55 yards.
That was the good.
The Vikings had the Colts backed up inside its own five-yard line. Pat McAfee hit a huge 64-yard punt high into the air. Marcus Sherels returned the ball 11 yards to get the offense the ball 58 yards from the end zone. However, Christian Ballard committed an illegal block penalty pushing the ball back to the 32-yard line.
That was bad.
The bad negates the good, and you have a rather ordinary day for the special teams.
As previously mentioned, it is impressive and encouraging to see a second-year quarterback lead the team to game-tying scores in the final minute of each game.
However, his consistency (both in his accuracy and decision making) need to improve over the course of an entire game. He made some great throws and was off on a few. At times he made throws with perfect timing and was sacked because he held the ball too long. As is the case with most teams, the offense’s success is tied to Ponder.
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Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. His work can be found on Examiner.com.