INDIANAPOLIS --The Indianapolis Colts used solid defense, efficient offense and one enormous and poised special teams play Sunday to topple the Minnesota Vikings, 23-20, at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Place-kicker Adam Vinatieri, like so many times before in his NFL career, provided the winning points. His 53-yard field goal with 8 seconds remaining ended a game that appeared destined for overtime.
It marked the first victory for first-year Coach Chuck Pagano and evened the Colts' 2012 record at 1-1.
"I feel great for all of our assistant coaches and players (because of) all the time and trust and belief they put in," Pagano said.
"What a great crowd," Pagano added about the turnout of 63,912. "My hat goes off to our fans. When we needed them and needed them the most, they were there and they were loud and it was an electric atmosphere."
Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck engineered the Colts' final drive after the Vikings had tied it at 20-all on Christian Ponder's six-yard scoring pass to Kyle Rudolph with 31 seconds left.
First, Luck hit Donnie Avery with a 20-yard completion. Then he repeated the feat, throwing to Reggie Wayne for another 20-yard gain. Finally, an offside penalty against the Vikings set the stage for Vinatieri's heroics.
"To be able to come out of there with a victory is … a testament to them," Pagano said about his young team. "It will go a long way moving forward."
Besides the late push for the score, Luck turned in an overall impressive performance, completing 20-of-31 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns without an interception.
"It's just amazing the guy's able to go out there and do the things he does as a rookie," said Pagano, whose team suffered zero turnovers after committing five in a season-opening loss at Chicago.
"He doesn't get rattled. He sees the field. He understands the offense extremely well. … There's no panic to the kid."
Luck received help, too, from a Colts defense that played steadily. Indy held Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson to 60 yards on 16 carries. The Colts yielded 327 total yards and 19 first downs to the visitors but held them without a touchdown until the final quarter.
"We'll never apologize for winning, no matter how you win, how you get it done," Pagano said. "These guys fought, hung in there and found a way to win at the end of the game."
FIRST QUARTER (7:48 remaining)
The Vikings opened the scoring with a 51-yard field goal by Blair Walsh. Minnesota took the opening kickoff and marched 44 yards in 12 plays. Quarterback Christian Ponder passed for 38 yards, hitting all four of his attempts. Running back Adrian Peterson carried four times for 21 yards.Vikings 3, Colts 0
FIRST QUARTER (49 seconds remaining)
On the Colts' first possession, quarterback Andrew Luck went right to work, completing 4-of-6 passes for 68 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown toss to Dwayne Allen. Luck's 41-yard completion to Donnie Avery, who got past Antoine Winfield on a deep route, was a thing of beauty and set up the score. Adam Vinatieri booted the extra point. Colts 7, Vikings 3
SECOND QUARTER (11:38 remaining)
Percy Harvin's 50-yard kickoff return set this one up for the visitors. Capitalizing on a possession that started at their own 43-yard line, the Vikings went 46 yards in nine plays and Walsh connected on a 29-yard field goal. Harvin also provided the big play of the march, skirting left end for a 20-yard run.Colts 7, Vikings 6
SECOND QUARTER (1:49 remaining)
A big defensive play by the Colts set the stage. Jerrell Freeman sacked and stripped Ponder from behind and Cory Redding recovered the fumble, giving Indy the ball at the Minnesota 48. A 10-yard completion, Luck to Avery, gained a key first down for the Colts. Vinatieri hit a 26-yard field goal. Colts 10, Vikings 6
SECOND QUARTER (7 seconds remaining)
The Colts notched another score just before halftime, with Luck leading them on a smooth eight-play, 64-yard march. Indy had gained possession with 1:11 remaining, and Luck promptly threw short completions to Coby Fleener, Mewelde Moore and Reggie Wayne. On third down from the Vikings 30, Luck saw Wayne break open down the middle of the field and lofted a perfect pass for the touchdown with 7 seconds left in the half. Vinatieri added the extra point.Colts 17, Vikings 6
THIRD QUARTER (7:06 remaining)
Two costly penalties for the Vikings aided the Colts. A roughing-the-kicker call was flagged on Andrew Sendejo when he ran into Colts punter Pat McAfee, providing Indy with a first down early in the drive. Later, Minnesota's Jared Allen was called for hitting Luck out of bounds at end of a third-down scramble by the quarterback. Indy took advantage, and Vinatieri connected on a 45-yard field goal. Colts 20, Vikings 6
FOURTH QUARTER (5:07 remaining)
The Vikings pulled closer with a 10-play, 54-yard touchdown drive, receiving a couple of lucky bounces on the score. On fourth down at the Colts 7-yard line, Ponder tried to throw into the end zone. Colts lineman Cory Redding swatted the ball, knocking it into the air. The ball deflected into the hands of Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph, who couldn't control it. It went into the air again, this time being grabbed by Minnesota wide receiver Stephen Burton for the TD. Walsh connected on the extra point.Colts 20, Vikings 13
FOURTH QUARTER (31 seconds remaining)
The Vikings tied it with a nine-play, 47-yard scoring drive. Ponder's pass to Rudolph, running over the middle, was good for the 6-yard touchdown. Earlier, a short pass to Peterson developed into a 20-yard gain and sustained the drive. Walsh hit the extra point.Colts 20, Vikings 20
FOURTH QUARTER (8 seconds remaining)
Vinatieri won the game for the Colts, hitting a 53-yard field goal with 8 seconds left. Two 20-yard pass completions by Luck, one to Avery and one to Wayne, set up the kick. Colts 23, Vikings 20