THE VIEW FROM PARTS UNKNOWN --
Week 16, and the Vikings (8-6) face a tough game against the Texans (12-2) on the road, and it's all about the four P's: Peterson, Ponder, Playoffs and Packers.
1) Adrian Peterson, the Star Tribune's Sportsperson on the Year, hopes to rush his way into the record books the next few weeks. He's 188 yards shy of 2,000 and 294 yards away from breaking Eric Dickerson's all-time NFL rushing record.
2) Christian Ponder, the newlywed, hopes to manage the game and stay upright, despite Houston's J.J. Watt approaching the NFL record for sacks.
3) The playoffs. The Vikings are eight-point underdogs, and will have to pull off the nearly-impossible (no one on Earth is picking them to win) to keep any reasonable playoff hopes alive.
4) Packers. Next week's opponent at the Dome. A win against Houston would make Week 17's showdown extra Merry.
How did the Vikings blow off steam this week? Witha Friday dance-off between Fred Evans and Everson Griffen. Let's hope they're this loose today:
There's your set-up. From here on out, we'll watch what's going on in Houston, minute-by-minute...
11:20 a.m. : Defensive end Brian Robison officially out (no surprise) with a sprained shoulder. Everson Griffen will start in his place.
12:02: Texans win toss, will get the ball first.
12:03: Game starts, Texans ball on 21.
12:10: TEXANS 3, VIKINGS 0 -- Shayne Graham hits a 51-yarder to give Texans early lead.
12:16: Adrian Peterson starts things off with a 20-yard-run. Being called "effortless."
12:19: Michael Jenkins with a huge catch to get it down to the 3-yard-line. Ponder has all day to throw, right now.
12:20: VIKINGS 7, TEXANS 3 -- Ponder to Rudolph for the 3-yard TD as Vikes take lead back.
12:21: Radio guy Paul Allen couldn't resist: "And a guy named Rudolph scores just ahead of Christmas."
12:22: Ponder was 3-3 for 62 passing yards on the drive, which has Twitter smart-alecs out in full force:
12:27: Texans go three-and-out. Vikes defense looks like a playoff defense, right now. Purple needs to score. "We've got 'em on the ropes," according to radio color guy Pete Bercich.
12:42: Texans' Arian Foster fumbles on Minnesota's 20. Brinkley caused it. Jefferson got it. Vikings ball.
12:43: Here's what it looked like:
12:49: Cold-blooded first down catch by Jerome Simpson, as Vikings keep drive alive at Texan's 36.
12:50: VIKINGS 10, TEXANS 3 -- Blair Walsh hits a 56-yard field goal, his 9th from 50-plus this year. That's an NFL record.
12:59: Harrison Smith misses easy interception on third down. Texans, down by 7, have to punt with 6:10 left in second quarter.
1:04: Texans get ball back with 2:30 left at their own 20.
1:07: At two-minute warning...Houston fans -- who have a 12-2 team -- are booing!!! Man alive, what a joke.
1:11: Winfield sacks Schaub. Texans have to punt. Vikes' D dominating.
1:12: VIKINGS 13, TEXANS 3 -- Walsh hits another FG, this one from 41 yards out.
1:25: At the half, well worth listening to from our friends at KFAN:
1:26: Note from PA:
1:34: Vikings get the ball first in the second half.
1:39: Vikings in business again, on the Texans' 22.
1:40: VIKINGS 16, TEXANS 3 -- Walsh 3-3, this one from 39-yards out.
1:48: "Worst game I have seen Matt Schaub have in some time" -- Paul Allen after Texans have to punt from their goal line after missing on a 3rd and 12.
1:49: Anyone get the idea if the Vikings keep doing what they're doing, they'll .. uh, win?!
1:51: Not if Ponder fumbles and loses the ball, after being sacked by J.J. Watt. Ugh. Huge, huge turnover.
1:53: Vikings defense holds after fumble. Texans have to punt. D picks up Ponder big time.
2:08: On third and goal from the 2, Fred Evans sacks Schaub at the 17, killing Texans drive.
2:09: VIKINGS 16, TEXANS 6 -- Graham hits 33-yard FG after dandy goal line stand.
2:19: Jerome Simpson hauls one in at the 50. Huge play for Vikes, who are on the move as 4th quarter starts.
2:20: Drive stalls, with Kluwe forced to punt it away -- and it's a great one -- Texans forced to start at their own 1-yard line.
2:23: Per KFAN, no Arian Foster for the Texans on this drive. Third-and-three from their own 7 -- and Texans have to punt. Crowd keeps booing, which PA adroitly calls "idiots."
2:25: Vikes ball on their own 35 with 10:45 to go.
2:29: Ponder runs 20 yards to the 25 yard line. Huge play for the second-year QB.
2:34: Huge, huge, huge personal foul against Texans. Vikings in red zone First and goal.
2:35: VIKINGS 23, TEXANS 6 -- RB Toby Gerhart punches it in for TD. Game. Over.
2:43:WCCO's Mark Rosen has great point:
2:45: No Schaub. No Foster. Pre-season game for Texans. Vikes recover fumble at Houston 37.
2:47: Adrian Peterson's day is done, with 86 yards on the day. With the win, he probably doesn't care.
2:52: Victory formation. Minnesota improves to 9-6. Playoffs or not, they have a winning season after going 3-13 last year. Incredible turnaround.
2:53: FINAL: VIKINGS 23, TEXANS 6 -- Green Bay next week at MOA Field.