The Minnesota Vikings opened the NFL season at home for the first time since 2007 and in the process picked up a 26-23 overtime victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. In a game that featured the return of Adrian Peterson, the Vikings needed the leg of rookie kicker Blair Walsh to tie the game and eventually win in overtime.
"Just go out there and hit it," Walsh told FOX 9's Dawn Mitchell. "We worked so hard to come back and win this game. I was just there to help with the kick."
Jacksonville provided late drama as Blaine Gabbert found Cecil Shorts for a 39 yard touchdown with 27 seconds left in the game to capture a 21-20 lead. Gabbert found a wide open Justin Blackmon to pick up the two-point conversion extending the lead to three.
Christian Ponder played hero and two plays later, the offense put Walsh in a position to show off his leg to the tune of a 55 yard field goal to tie the game and send it to overtime.
Peterson was back to his old tricks rushing 17 times for 84 yards scoring two touchdowns. For AP he cited introductions as the most emotional moment of the game.
"I heard (the crowd) but I was in a zone," said Peterson. "I was just thanking God that I was able to accomplish what I set forth and that was being able to come out and play today."
The Vikings started sluggish on offense, only picking up two first downs in the first 27 minutes of the first half. Then Ponder and company flipped the switch. Percy Harvin became the focal point of the offense in their final series before halftime. Three straight completions to the dynamic receiver put the Vikings near the red zone for the first time in the game. Peterson capped the seven play drive with his first score of the game.
"For him to settle down and get control of the game" Harvin said about his three straight catches on the drive. "That's what we were able to do in the second half."
After forcing and recovering a Gabbert fumble, the Vikings offense went back to work putting the ball in the hands of the two that had breathed life into an otherwise stale offense. Peterson ran for 19 yards on first down, Harvin hauled in a Ponder pass for another 19 yards and two plays later, AP catapulted himself into the end zone for his second score of the game.
The teams swapped field goals in the fourth quarter setting up the drama to begin.
With the game tied and headed to overtime, the Vikings offense had first dibs. Eight plays and 55 yards later, Walsh was back on the field with an opportunity to give his team the lead. His 38 yard field goal was true, and the Vikings led 26-23.
The defense that had struggled to get off the field on third and fourth down needed one stop. They got it. Chad Greenway and Harrison Smith played big on the final possession of the game finally getting the stop they desperately needed.
"It sure does feel good to play at home and open the season with a win," head coach Leslie Frazier said after the win. "You have to take your hat off to our players for the effort that they gave and just having the attitude that we are not going to lose this game."
The Vikings will hit the road next week as they travel to Indianapolis to face the Colts at 12:00 p.m. next Sunday. The Colts lost their opener to Chicago 41-21 in the opener.