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Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder threw his first two interceptions of the season on Sunday. Despite that, the Vikings routed the Titans, 30-7, behind an offense that racked up 433 total yards.
The Daily Norseman noted that Ponder's quick turnaround from the two picks was key, as the second-year quarterback led his team to 17 second-half points following the second turnover:
I thought Ponder responded very well ... after those ugly back-to-back picks, giving a nearly perfect game after that. Early in the game Ponder also proved wrong those who said he couldn't throw a deeper pass ... by sailing a perfect ball right into Harvin's waiting hands.
Ponder's interceptions, which came on consecutive passes, as DN stated, ended a streak of 143 attempts without a pick for the Florida State product. Still, Ponder threw for 258 yards and two scores, both of which came in the second half.
Of course, the Vikings defense played a large part in the victory, as well. The unit kept Tennessee's running game completely at bay, while not allowing Matt Hasselbeck to get anything going until the game was already well-in-hand. From DN:
Our D-line is a nightmare for the opposing O-line, quarterback, and whatever poor sucker is being handed the ball for a run. Our LB corps lets very, very little escape its jaws, and they clamp down on practically everything like the teeth of Cerberus himself.
The 4-1 Vikings face a stiffer test this weekend against the Redskins, although Washington has lost its last eight home games and could be without quarterback Robert Griffin III, who suffered a concussion in Sunday's loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson suffered a mild ankle sprain in Sunday's victory over the Tennessee Titans, but shouldn't be in danger of missing any time, according to 1500 ESPN's Tom Pelissero.
The injury, which occurred on the second play of the game, hampered Peterson through the remainder of the first half, as he told FSN North's Brian Hall:
"I was thinking about it too much. I couldn't cut and I was trying to test it out. That threw my focus off."
After rushing for just 35 yards in the first half, Peterson finished a bit stronger, ending his day with 88 yards on 17 carries. While Peterson believes he played better in the second half, he still seemed down about his overall effort.
I just had to come in in the second half and get some tape and adjust and refocus. I came out and did all right in the second half, but I just got to do better."
As a whole, the Vikings ran the ball very well on Sunday, racking up 175 yards on the ground, albeit against the league's 27th-ranked run defense. Minnesota will face a stiffer test on Oct. 14, when they face the Washington Redskins, who are ranked No. 13 in the NFL in rushing yards allowed.
This story originally appeared on SBNation.com.
Vikings' running back Adrian Peterson twisted his ankle in Sunday's 30-7 victory over the Titans.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder has a nagging knee injury that limited him a bit in practice last week, but he says it did not affect his play against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday:
"It's just swollen up and a bursa sac deal," Ponder said. "It's not that painful. There is just some pressure in there. I would say it is more uncomfortable than painful. (Eric) Sugarman (the Vikings' athletic trainer) did a great job of getting me ready. It's something that will probably be around for a couple of weeks."
The Vikings beat Tennessee 30-7 and Ponder, who was listed as probable on Friday's injury report, finished the game 25-35 for 258 yards and two touchdowns, though he did also throw a pair of interceptions. They were the first interceptions he'd thrown all season.
For the season, Ponder has completed 69 percent of his throws and has six touchdowns. He is on pace to eclipse his rookie season production in a number of different categories, including passing efficiency, yards per attempt and touchdown-to-interception ratio.
The Minnesota Vikings are off to a 4-1 start to the 2012 season and go for their fifth win when they face the Washington Redskins in Week 6.
Minnesota won this game despite quarterback Christian Ponder throwing his first two interceptions of the 2012 season. After going 145 attempts to start the season without throwing a pick, the Vikings' second-year signal caller threw interceptions on back-to-back passes. His final pass of the first half deflected off of the hands of tight end Kyle Rudolph and into the hands of Tennessee's Robert Johnson, and his first attempt of the third quarter wound up being intercepted by Jordan Babineaux.
Outside of that, however, the highlights were few and far between for the visiting team. Through the first three quarters of play, the Titans had just five first downs and 96 yards of total offense. They picked up some yardage in the fourth quarter when the Vikings were just attempting to run the clock out, but the Vikings still outgained the Titans by a margin of 433 yards to 267. The Titans were held off of the scoreboard until a 10-yard pass from Matt Hasselbeck to Jared Cook with about ten and a half minutes left in the fourth quarter of play.
Brian Robison and Jared Allen each registered a sack on the afternoon. Jasper Brinkley and Erin Henderson were each credited with a forced fumble, with Brinkley's being a strip of Chris Johnson that was recovered by Harrison Smith in the first quarter of play. Rookie cornerback Josh Robinson led Minnesota in tackles with six.
The Vikings held Titans' running back Chris Johnson to just 24 yards on 15 carries, and Hasselbeck had just 200 passing yards despite going to the air 43 times. That tells you what kind of performance the Minnesota defense put on this Sunday afternoon.
It wasn't all rosy for the Minnesota defense, however, as rookie safety Harrison Smith was ejected in the second quarter for contact with an official. The official was attempting to separate Smith and Titans' wide receiver Nate Washington, and Smith pushed the official out of the way. Not only did that draw a 15-yard penalty for Smith, but it was also enough to get him kicked out of the game. We will have to see what sort of fine and/or other punishment is potentially coming from the league office.
Ponder was up-and-down on the day, completing 25-of-35 passes for 258 yards and two touchdowns to go with his two interceptions. The first touchdown was a little flip to Percy Harvin that saw #12 take care of all the work, making four Titans miss on his way to the end zone for a 10-yard score. The second was a fade to Kyle Rudolph in the back corner of the end zone in the fourth quarter that sealed the game for Minnesota. Harvin also added a four-yard touchdown run in the first quarter to open the scoring for Minnesota.
Running back Adrian Peterson gained 88 yards on 17 carries, including a 34-yard burst that is his longest of the year. Toby Gerhart saw quite a bit of time in the fourth quarter, and finished the afternoon with six carries for 41 yards. Harvin wound up with a total of 116 yards of offense, thanks to eight catches for 108 yards and two carries for eight more yards. He did not get an opportunity to return a kickoff on the afternoon.
The Vikings, at 4-1, remain tied for first place in the NFC North with the Chicago Bears. They will travel to the nation's capital next week to take on a Washington Redskins (2-3) team that might be without star rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III. RGIII suffered a concussion on Sunday afternoon in the Redskins' 24-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. The Titans fall to 1-4, and will have a short week in front of them as they prepare to battle the Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2) on Thursday night.
The Minnesota Vikings answered the Tennessee Titans first touchdown of the afternoon with another touchdown of their own, as it appears that quarterback Christian Ponder has shaken off the two interceptions that he threw earlier in the afternoon.
After an onside kick attempt by the Titans was ruled to have gone out of bounds, the Vikings started their drive at the Tennessee 36-yard line. The Vikings only needed six plays to get the job done from there, as they concluded the drive with Ponder finding a leaping Kyle Rudolph in the back of the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown connection.
The Vikings have now increased their lead to 30-7 on Ponder's second touchdown pass of the afternoon. For the game, Ponder has completed 25-of-35 passes for 258 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. Adrian Peterson's day appears to be finished after 17 carries for 88 yards, as Toby Gerhart was the one carrying the mail for the Vikings on this last drive.
We have 6:38 left at the Metrodome, and the Vikings appear poised to move to 4-1 on the 2012 season as they lead the Tennessee Titans 30-7.
The Tennessee Titans had what was, by far, their best offensive drive of the day, moving the ball 77 yards in 12 plays following the touchdown by Percy Harvin. Matt Hasselbeck took advantage of a Minnesota defense that appeared to have backed off a little bit from the pressure they had been applying for most of the game.
The drive concluded with a 10-yard pass from Hasselbeck to tight end Jared Cook to give Tennessee their first points of the afternoon, with the Rob Bironas extra point making the score 23-7 in favor of the home team.
The Titans just attempted an onside kick that wound up being ruled as having gone out of bounds, giving Minnesota the football inside of Titans territory.
With just over ten minutes remaining in the fourth quarter at the Metrodome, the Minnesota Vikings lead the Tennessee Titans by a score of 23-7.
After Christian Ponder threw a second interception to start the half. . .his second in consecutive attempts after going 145 attempts in a row to start the season without one, the Vikings got the ball back and converted a 26-yard field goal from Blair Walsh to make the score 16-0.
Following another Tennessee three-and-out. . .the Titans have just five first downs and 96 yards of offense through three quarters of play. . .the Vikings drove down the field again, concluding the drive with a beautiful catch-and-run for Percy Harvin from 10 yards out for his second touchdown of the day. That one made the score 23-0, which is where we stand as the fourth quarter gets underway.
Here's a look at the catch and run for Harvin.
If the Vikings can hold on to this lead, they will move to 4-1 on the season, and will retain a share of first place in the NFC North with the Chicago Bears, who are blasting the Jacksonville Jaguars by a score of 34-3 midway through the fourth quarter.
The Vikings started the second half with Adrian Peterson's longest run of the season, a 34-yard blast that moved the Vikings into Tennessee territory. However, Christian Ponder threw his second interception of the game shortly thereafter, and the drive was stopped. After going 145 attempts without throwing an interception, Ponder threw picks on back-to-back attempts against a Tennessee pass defense that ranks towards the bottom of the National Football League in nearly every passing category.
The Minnesota defense once again stepped up and forced a three-and-out from the Titans, and drove down the field once again. The drive was highlighted by a 22-yard run from Toby Gerhart while spelling Peterson, as he went up and over a couple of Tennessee defenders at the end of it.
The drive ultimately stalled out, however, and the Vikings had to settle for their third Blair Walsh field goal of the day, this one from 26 yards out to make the score 16-0.
The Minnesota defense has put on an outstanding performance thus far today, allowing Tennessee just five first downs to this point in the game, and the Titans have just 87 total yards to this point in the game.
We have about five minutes remaining in the third quarter at the Metrodome, with the Minnesota Vikings holding a 16-0 lead over the Tennessee Titans.
Thus far, the Minnesota Vikings are doing exactly what their fans were hoping to see them do to the Tennessee Titans, and that is put together a solid performance. Through the first half of play, the Vikings lead their AFC South opponents by a score of 13-0.
The Vikings' lone touchdown came on their second drive of the game, after a nine-play, 91-yard drive that saw Percy Harvin carry the ball across the goal line from four yards out. That play was set up by the Vikings' longest offensive play of the season, a 45-yard rainbow from Christian Ponder to Harvin that put Minnesota at the Tennessee 16-yard line.
Outside of that, Minnesota has gotten six points from the right foot of rookie kicker Blair Walsh, who has connected on field goals of 42 and 36 yards to extend the Minnesota lead to 13-0.
Minnesota forced a Tennessee punt late in the second quarter, and took over with about a minute and a half left before halftime. Titans' safety Michael Griffin was flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Vikings' receiver Michael Jenkins, and a quick hit to Percy Harvin moved the ball near the Tennessee red zone. However, Ponder threw a couple of ugly passes on the last two plays of the drive, and the second one was tipped by several players before settling into the hands of Tennessee defensive back Robert Johnson for Ponder's first interception of the year. He had gone 145 pass attempts without a pick prior to that throw.
We're at halftime at the Metrodome, the Minnesota Vikings lead the Tennessee Titans by a score of 13-0. Minnesota will get the ball to start the second half, as Tennessee won the coin toss and got the ball first.
With about 11:30 remaining in the second quarter of play, Vikings' cornerback Antoine Winfield intercepted a Matt Hasselbeck pass and returned it deep into Tennessee territory. After the play, Vikings' rookie safety Harrison Smith was charged with a personal foul and ejected from the remainder of this afternoon's game.
It was thought at first that Smith had thrown a punch at a Tennessee player, but the replay showed that he pushed an official off of him that was attempting to back him away from a Tennessee player. That's an immediate ejection in the National Football League, and the rookie from Notre Dame was given the proverbial thumb.
With the Vikings already short-handed at safety with Andrew Sendejo and Mistral Raymond nursing ankle injuries, it might come down to Smith's Notre Dame teammate Robert Blanton, the Vikings' fifth-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, to line up next to Jamarca Sanford for the majority of the remainder of today's game. Blanton hasn't seen much time of defense this season, so it will be interesting to see how the secondary plays for the rest of the afternoon.
Blair Walsh has just added a 42-yard field goal to make the score 10-0 in favor of the Vikings with 10:27 left in the second quarter of play.
Here's an animation of what happened to Smith to get him ejected. The folks at CBS didn't show a whole lot of what happened, unfortunately.
Minnesota started the drive at their own 9-yard line, and Christian Ponder got things going with a 13-yard scramble on the first play of the drive. Ponder then hit Michael Jenkins for 15 yards, and two plays later hit a beautiful 45-yard rainbow to Percy Harvin to move the ball to the Tennessee 16-yard line.
The Vikings were forced into a third down situation again, but Ponder found Jenkins again to give the Vikings first and goal at the 4-yard line. Harvin finished things off from there, with Harvin lining up in the backfield and taking a handoff from Ponder, powering in from four yards out.
The Vikings drive took 9 plays to cover 91 yards, taking 4:59 off of the clock.
With 2:31 left in the first quarter of play at the Metrodome, the Minnesota Vikings lead the Tennessee Titans by a score of 7-0.
After being listed as questionable during the week, Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt is active on Sunday as they take on the Minnesota Vikings.
Tennessee will be without their starting QB as the Titans rely on veteran Matt Hasselbeck to hold their season together.
Minnesota Vikings veterans credit a simplified defensive scheme for their improved pass rush over the past two weeks, according to a report from Tom Pelissero for 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
After the Vikings' defensive line recorded only one of the team's four sacks through the first two games of the season, an overtime win over the Jacksonville Jaguars and loss to the Indianapolis Colts, defensive tackle Kevin Williams and defensive end Jared Allen spoke with defensive coordinator Alan Williams and line coach Brendan Daly about going back to what had worked for the line in recent seasons - just lining up and getting after the quarterback. Williams thanked the new defensive strategy:
"You know how sometimes, like a formation (will) come up, and they'll be like, we wanted to do so and so to this formation and this to that formation? Just let us go and work through it and play off of each other. That's the best thing we've got going for us up front."
In the last two games, the Vikings defensive line has recorded six of the team's eight sacks in wins against the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions, both 2011 playoff squads. The improved pass rush has had a calming effect on the Vikings secondary, which could pay dividends Sunday against the Tennessee Titans and backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who will get the start in place of Jake Locker, who's nursing an injured shoulder.
"It's huge for our players, for the coaches, to be able to generate that type of pressure without having to put the secondary under adverse situations," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said.
In search of their third consecutive victory this Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings received a nice boost on Thursday by the full return of star linebacker Erin Henderson to the practice field. Henderson had been out with concussion symptoms.
Henderson was among 10 Minnesota players listed on the team's official Week 5 injury report and participated fully on Thursday after being limited the previous day. The 26-year-old Henderson has not played in a game since Sept. 16 against Indianapolis due to the head injury, but he was cleared to begin practicing this week by doctors and has a great chance to play this weekend.
Also returning to practice for the Vikings was veteran wideout Michael Jenkins, who was limited Thursday after sitting out on Wednesday with a rib injury. Jenkins, a nine-year pro, only managed to haul in two passes over the last two weeks after snagging five receptions for 43 yards in Week 2. In addition to Jenkins, quarterback Christian Ponder, linebacker Marvell Mitchell, tackle Charlie Johnson and defensive backs Marcus Sherels and Antoine Winfield were also limited at Thursday's practice.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Titans are also dealing with a bevy of injuries heading into Sunday's showdown. As many as nine Tennessee players currently sit on the team's official injury report, including starting quarterback Jake Locker and star tight end Jared Cook. Now in his second NFL season, Locker was held out of Thursday's practice once again with a serious shoulder injury, and he is expected to give way to veteran signal caller Matt Hasselbeck in Sunday's game.
Matt Hasselbeck will replace Jake Locker as the starting quarterback when the Titans take on the Vikings, due to a dislocated shoulder from Ponder.
Erin Henderson of the Minnesota Vikings remains doubtful for the team's next game, and it would be the third-straight miss if he doesn't suit up against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.
Odds and lines for the Week 5 showdown between the Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings.
The Minnesota Vikings are the favorite of most experts in this week's game with Tennessee.
Christian Ponder finds himself on Minnesota's Week 5 injury report, and was spotted wearing a wrap on his right knee in practice.