Vikings Beat Chargers 31-14
September 27, 2015

Adrian Peterson rushed for 126 yards, including a spectacular 43-yard touchdown, Chad Greenway returned an interception 91 yards for another score, and the Minnesota defense pressured quarterback Philip Rivers and clogged the line for running-back Melvin Gordon as the Vikings beat the San Diego Chargers 31-14 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

Peterson’s status for the game wasn’t clear as his wife had a baby in the morning. He called coach Mike Zimmer at 8:30 without definite news and texted him about an hour later that he would be at the stadium in time for the noon game.

His run, on the Vikings’s first play of the third quarter, was his second touchdown of the game and increased Minnesota’s lead to 17-7. Peterson took the handoff, ran into a wall at the line, bounced off and headed to the right sideline, stiff-arming safety Jimmy Wilson. He cut inside and sent the other safety, Jimmy Waddle to the ground with a hit, then had clear field ahead.

Zimmer was pleased the way his team responded at the beginning of the second half, after giving up a touchdown late in the second quarter. The defense, strong all day, held on the first series and forced a punt that was returned 20 yards by Marcus Sherels to the San Diego 43, setting up Peterson’s play of the game.

Both teams came into the day after splitting their first two games, and the Minnesota defense established its dominance early. The Chargers began with a three-tight-end set but quickly had to try other options. Gordon, a rookie from Wisconsin, found little daylight, and the Vikings gave Rivers little time to operate and sacked him four times.

“We want to hit the quarterback as often as possible, ” said Zimmer. “The more they are under duress, the more difficult it is for them. ”

Despite the duress Rivers completed 21 of 34 passes for 246 yards, but he was rarely comfortable in the pocket.

Minnesota missed a chance to at a score on its second possession when tight-end Kyle Rudolph couldn’t hold onto a pass in the end zone on a first down from the San Diego 24. Teddy Bridgewater tried for the end zone again on the next play, but his pass to Charles Johnson was intercepted by Steve Williams.

Later in the quarter linebacker Anthony Barr sacked Rivers, knocking the ball loose. Minnesota’s Captain Munnerlyn recovered on the 13; however, all the Vikings could get from this was a 24-yard field goal from Blair Walsh.

Early in the second quarter San Diego’s Mike Scifres shanked a punt that went out of bounds at the Minnesota 33. Jerick McKinnon was in for Peterson at the start of the drive, but Peterson returned for the final push, scoring on a two-yard run that put Minnesota ahead 10-0.

The Vikings had the Chargers bottled up just before the two-minute warning and appeared they would get the ball back with time for another score. Instead, facing a third and 18 from the 12, Rivers connected with Malcom Floyd for 39 yards. San Diego kept moving and got on the board with a 34-yard pass to Keenan Allen for a touchdown with 1:17 left. In addition to giving up the points, Minnesota lost cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who collided with a teammate on the play, to a head injury.

After Peterson’s third-quarter touchdown rebuilt the 10-point lead, the Vikings kept the pressure on. Walsh kicked a 40-yard field goal, but the Chargers were called for holding, an automatic first down. The Vikings took the points on the board and continued toward the end zone with fullback Zach Line taking it in from a yard out.

The Chargers worked their way to the Vikings 14 but their chances for a comeback evaporated on a third-down pass, which tipped off the hands of Stevie Johnson into the hands of linebacker Chad Greenway, who followed a wall of blockers down the right sideline for a 91-yard return that put the Vikings ahead 31-7.

San Diego put Kellen Clemens in at quarterback midway through the fourth quarter, and the veteran backup led a 14-play, 89-yard drive that finished with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Allen with 32 seconds left.

Zimmer noted the presence of more than 60 Viking alumni, who took the field at halftime in a ceremony to honor the team’s latest Hall of Famer, Mick Tingelhoff. Fran Tarkenton spoke at the ceremony and lauded the accomplishments of his longtime snapper.

Having won two consecutive home games, the Vikings next travel to Denver for a game against the Broncos.

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