|The Colts' Adam Vinatieri reacts after kicking a game-winning, 53-yard field goal as the Vikings' Antoine Winfield looks on. (AP)|
It only took Indianapolis Colts rookie QB Andrew Luck two games to get his first win in the NFL -- a 23-20 victory over the visiting Minnesota Vikings at Lucas Oil Field. The Colts, aided by the mistake-prone Vikings, led 17-6 at halftime, sputtered and then finally got their offense going again in time to position themselves for a game-winning, 53-yard field goal with eight seconds left in the game.
Luck had the Colts' offense rolling early as the team racked up 196 yards in the first half. The Vikings' defense stiffened and held the Colts to 82 yards in the second half. But the last 45 yards were the most important. With 31 seconds left and the game tied at 20, Luck led the Colts to the Vikings' 35, where K Adam Vinatieri kicked the 53-yard game-winner.
The Vikings were looking for a fast start on offense after digging themselves a hole the week before, and they got it, scoring on their first two drives. Unfortunately, they scored on 51- and 29-yard Blair Walsh field goals, and the lack of TDs eventually hurt them.
"We have to make sure we finish in the red zone,” Vikings C John Sullivansaid. "Field goals are not going to get it done."
But Minnesota's bigger mistakes came in the form of 11 penalties for 105 yards, which kept Indianapolis drives alive and killed drives for the Vikings.
"We've got to be cleaner,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. “We shot ourselves in the foot a couple times."
By the time the Vikings scored two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter, it was only enough to tie the game, and the Colts went on to get the game-winner.
Luck wasn't strong in the second half, but his numbers for the game (20 of 31 for 224 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions) and his fourth-quarter heroics in his first game in front of the home crowd will go a long way toward helping fans start the Luck era in earnest.
When the game turned: The Vikings' defense made a good stop to hold the Colts to a field goal just before halftime, but their offense gave the ball right back to the Colts with plenty of time left on the clock. Luck made the most of it with a 30-yard scoring pass to Reggie Wayne to go up 17-6 before halftime. With a little more help from Vikings' penalties, the Colts only needed two field goals in the second half to win the game.
After digging themselves a significant hole, the Vikings clawed back into the game with a blooper highlight touchdown. With fourth-and-4 at the Colts' 7-yard line, Vikings QB Christian Ponder's pass was blocked at the line by DE Cory Redding, bounced like a jump ball into the air, came down into Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph's hands in the end zone, was then knocked into the air by Colts CB Kevin Thomas and then floated down into the waiting hands of Vikings WR Stephen Burton for a touchdown. It wasn't pretty -- like much of the game for the Vikings --but it momentarily got the Vikings back into the game.
WR Donnie Avery had nine catches for 111 yards. Avery didn't get into the end zone in his relief of injured Colts WR Austin Collie, but he put Indianapolis in position to get there. He was targeted 10 times and made a catch every time Luck needed one.
What they said about DE Jared Allen's late hit of Andrew Luck out of bounds:
• Vikings DE Allen -- “I was cautiously conscious of where he was on the field. I dove when he was still in bounds, and I literally went for the ball and hit his arm and he fell down. I guess in this league you can't touch the quarterbacks. If he was a running back, they wouldn't have called it.”
What they said about Luck's performance:
• Colts QB Luck -- “I was not awarded a game ball, but I got one anyway. Reggie (Wayne) gave it to me.”
What they said about the Vikings' penalties and mistakes:
• Vikings WR Percy Harvin -- “We gave the NFL a perfect example of how to lose a game.”
Numbers you should know:
• The Colts started the game missing two starting offensive linemen and finished with only one starter on the field, yet the Vikings had two sacks and only one came from the defensive line. The 2011 NFL sack leader, Allen, was shut out for the second week in a row.
Injury update: Vikings WR Harvin left the game several times (particularly during the late comeback) and was being attended to on the sideline. He confirmed after the game it was cramps. Colts C Samson Satele left the game after injuring his left knee. He came into the game with a brace on his right knee. He did not return.
Going forward: Vikings: The Vikings let a golden opportunity slip away in Indianapolis, and now have to face the task of playing two 2011 playoff teams. Next week, the tough San Francisco 49ers enter the Metrodome, and then the Vikings head to Detroit to face the Lions in their first divisional game. Colts: The Colts can ride the momentum of their first win as they host the Jacksonville Jaguars in Lucas Oil Stadium next week. They have a chance for a winning record before they go on bye the following week.