INDIANAPOLIS – One of week one's most exciting games happened to involve the Colts' next two opponents, Jacksonville and Minnesota.
The Vikings won a thriller at home, 26-23 in overtime, over the Jaguars.
Rookie kicker Blair Walsh made a 38-yard field goal on the first possession of overtime, and then the Minnesota defense held downs to end the game five minutes into the extra session.
That field goal by Walsh was the game-winner, but the fireworks over the final minute of the fourth quarter proved to be the difference.
With the Vikings leading, 20-15, and 27 seconds remaining, Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert found wide receiver Cecil Shorts for a 33-yard touchdown. The Jaguars converted the two-point conversion to go ahead by three points, 23-20.
The Vikings returned the ensuing kickoff to their own 31-yard line and had just 14 seconds to get into field goal range.
Completions of 26 from Christian Ponder to wide receiver Devin Aromashodu and six yards from Ponder to tight end Kyle Rudolph set up the opportunity for Walsh to attempt a 55-yard field goal to send the game into overtime.
The rookie drilled the kick to extend the game. He put Minnesota ahead by the eventual final margin after a 55-yard march on eight plays that reached the Jacksonville 20. The Minnesota defense was able to hold on downs, thus giving the Vikings the overtime victory under the new extra period rules.
Helping to set up the Walsh game-winner was running back Adrian Peterson returning from the reconstructive knee surgery he had nine months ago.
Peterson carried the ball 17 times for 84 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Jaguars. In 2008 against the Colts, Peterson rushed for 160 yards.
Ponder, a second-year pro, was 20-of-27 through the air for 270 yards.
For the second straight week, the Colts will have their hands full on special teams. Last week, Indianapolis faced one of the most dangerous returners in NFL history in Devin Hester.
Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin had six catches for 84 yards last Sunday, but he also had a trio of kickoff returns for 88 yards. The explosive fourth-year performer from Florida has game-changing ability, and the Colts' return teams will be challenged again.
The Jaguars did a successful job of neutralizing Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen, holding him to zero sacks. Allen had 22 sacks in 2011, setting a franchise seasonal record. He had an 11-game sack streak during the 2010-11 seasons that broke the previous franchise mark of Jim Marshall (1969). Allen has 105 career sacks, and he had takedowns in 13 games in 2011, snapping the franchise seasonal-best of Alan Page (1976).
Minnesota will be visiting Indianapolis for just the third time in league play, the first time since the 2004 season. Minnesota did visit Lucas Oil Stadium in 2009 during preseason, its only visit to the club's new facility.
When the Vikings arrive, the coaching staff will bear some familiar faces. Head Coach Leslie Frazier served with Indianapolis from 2005-06 as a special assistant to the defense. Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams was the club's secondary coach from 2002-07. Assistant Defensive Line Coach Diron Reynolds was a defensive assistant with the club from 2002-06. All three served under Head Coach Tony Dungy, and all were a part of the team's staff that won Super Bowl XLI. Additionally, Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave was with the club in 1998 prior to the start of the season, helping back up Peyton Manning. Vikings players who also were with the Colts include Aromashodu and guard Charlie Johnson.
*2012 Record: *1-0, Tied for first in NFC North.
*Head Coach: *Leslie Frazier, 3rd season as Vikings and NFL head coach (7-16 overall regular season).
*2012 NFL Rankings: *Offense – Overall, 10th (389.0); Rushing, 10th (123.0); Passing, T13th (266.0.) Defense – Overall, 17th (355.0); Rushing, 18th (113.0); Passing, 16th (242.0).
2012 Leading PasserChristian Ponder (20-27 comp., 270 yards, 74.1 pct., 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 105.5 rating).
*2012 Leading Rusher: *Adrian Peterson (17 carries, 84 yards, 2 TDs).
*2012 Leading Receiver: *Percy Harvin (6 receptions, 84 yards, 0 TD).
2012 Leading Sacker: Chris Cook and Erin Henderson (1.0).
2012 Turnover Breakdown: Even (T13th).
2012 NFL Draft Results: After quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III went 1-2 in April's Draft, the Vikings traded down and got their left tackle in Matt Kalil. The USC product has NFL bloodlines and blocked a kick in Week One while protecting Christian Ponder's blindside. Safety Harrison Smith was drafted with the 29th pick in the first round and had seven tackles against the Jaguars. Cornerback Josh Robinson was the Vikings' next pick near the top of the third round and had four tackles in Week One. Kicker Blair Walsh showed why the Vikings drafted him with the poise and power to convert a game-tying and eventual game-winning field goal. He hit from the 20-, 30-, 40- and 50-yard ranges against Jacksonville.
*2011 Review: *Four one-possession losses to being the 2011 season started a tough year in Minnesota. The Vikings finished 3-13 last year and turned to rookie quarterback Christian Ponder in Week Six of the season. Minnesota did lead the league in sacks with 50 and Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen set a franchise seasonal record with 22.
Last time in Playoffs: 2010. Lost in the 2010 NFC Championship game to the New Orleans Saints, 31-28 in overtime.
*Last time in Super Bowl: *1976. Lost to the Oakland Raiders, 32-14, in Super Bowl XI.
*Super Bowl Championships: *None.
2011 Pro Bowl Selections: Jared Allen DE, Chad Greenway MLB.