By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings improved its chances of making the playoffs by upsetting the Houston Texans 23-6 Sunday at Reliant Stadium.
The Vikings (9-6) used a ball control formula, even though it had one turnover, and a dominating defense to keep the Texans from clinching the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs.
It is a formula head coach Leslie Frazier said a few weeks ago was the way the Vikings can win a championship.
MVP candidate Adrian Peterson was held to 86 yards on 25 carries, including a long of 21 yards, but combined with quarterback Christian Ponder’s efficiency got the win.
The Texans (12-3) never got in a rhythm on offense and struggled to convert on third down, 1 for 11 in such attempts. The Vikings defensive line played a big part in that by getting a lot of pressure on the Texans’ two quarterbacks with four sacks.
Frazier had the troops ready to play. The Vikings controlled the game from beginning to end (with the exception of the early portion of the Texans opening drive).
The Texans had no answer for the Vikings on offense and defense.
The Vikings moved the ball pretty well against one of the better defenses in the NFL. The strength of the Vikings offense was subdued for the most part all game. Peterson was able to break a couple big ones, but was bottled up most of the day. He finished with just 86 yards, his lowest output for a game since Week 6.
Ponder was really good when he needed to be. His numbers don’t look as good as he played. He completed 16 of 30 passes for 174 yards and one touchdown. He added 48 rushing yards on seven carries, including a 29-yard run.
The Vikings defense dominated the game. The Texans entered the game with a league-best scoring offense at 28 points per game. The Vikings gave up a few plays, but kept Matt Schaub, Arian Foster and Andre Johnson out of the end zone. The biggest series of defensive plays for the defense came when the Texans had first and goal down by 13 points late in the third quarter. The Texans backed up 14 yards and had to settle for a field goal.
What can still be said about Blair Walsh? He was a perfect 3-3 on field goals, including a Viking record tying 56-yarder and NFL record ninth kick of 50-yards or more. He and the kick coverage unit was solid again keeping Texans kick return Keshawn Martin to a 21 yard average. The kick coverage unit has now gone 10 straight games without allowing the opposing kick returner to cross the 25-yard line.
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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.