MINNEAPOLIS — Rookie kicker Blair Walsh hit a 55-yard field goal as time expired and a 38-yard field goal in overtime to give the Vikings a 26-23 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday in the 2012 season opener at Mall of America Field.
Blaine Gabbert’s 39-yard touchdown strike to Cecil Shorts III gave the Jaguars a three-point lead with with 20 seconds left in regulation. But the Vikings’ Walsh tied it as time ran out. Walsh, who hit four field goals on the day, also struck from 20 yards and 42 yards.
“I can’t say enough about Blair Walsh,” said Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder. “He’s a great weapon for us.”
Ponder was 20-for-27 with 270 yards. While he didn’t complete a touchdown pass, he did get the Vikings in position with 20 seconds remaining and two time outs to get Walsh in position to tie the game.
To hear Ponder’s postgame comments in their entirety, CLICK HERE.
“That’s the way you want to start the season,” coach Leslie Frazier said. “For our guys to find a way to fight (to win) … it’s incredible.”
Adrian Peterson also returned to the Vikings lineup in style Sunday, scoring a pair of touchdowns. He also passed Robert Smith to become the Vikings’ all-time career rushing leader. For the day, he ran for 84 yards on 17 carries.
After the game, Peterson called breaking Smith’s record a “great honor.” As for the game, he said that “he knew” he would be playing on Sunday, “but had to keep it under wraps.”
“I just relaxed and went out and played my game,” Peterson said. “It was a great way to start the season.”
“He looked pretty good to me,” Frazier said of Peterson. “Some of those runs, I told him afterward, ‘I’m not sure you weren’t just faking that ACL.'”
To hear Peterson’s postgame comments in their entirety, CLICK HERE.
To hear Fraizer’s postgame comments in their entirety, CLICK HERE.
Peterson struck first near the end of the first half to put the Vikings on the board after two quarters of sluggish play. His two-yard scamper made the score 9-7 at the time.
Peterson then powered in from the two-yard-line again early in the third quarter to give Minnesota a 14-9 lead.
The Jaguars got off to a 9-0 lead early in the game with a Gabbert to Marcedes Lewis touchdown pass from one yard out. Earlier, Josh Scobee hit a 19-yard field goal to get Jacksonville on the board. Scobee also hit field goals from 47 yards and 26 yards out.
In the pregame introductions, a deafening roar welcomed back Peterson back to the Vikings lineup.
Peterson, who suffered an ACL and MCL tear last Christmas Eve, was named the starting running back ahead of Toby Gerhart before the game, and ran for a 4-yard gain in the Vikings first possession.
“I hope to inspire at lot of people,” Peterson said of his comeback.