The Free Press, Mankato, MN

September 16, 2012

Colts beat Vikings on late field goal

Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings watched helplessly as Colts quarterback Andrew Luck picked apart their defense Sunday.


Penalties turned into first downs. Blown coverages became touchdowns. And when the Vikings needed one more stop to force overtime, Luck slipped away and started completing passes down field as well.


After rallying for two late touchdowns and finally tying the score in the final minute, the Colts quarterback took advantage of three more mistakes and got Adam Vinatieri into position for the decisive 53-yard field goal with 8 seconds to go for a 23-20 victory.


"We did some things today that really hurt us. We hurt ourselves," coach Leslie Frazier said. 'We've got to figure it out. We've got to learn from it and not let it happen going forward. We really shot ourselves in the foot a few different times."


It was a frustrating day for the Vikings (1-1), who thought they had overcome the miscues and were headed to overtime again after tying the score at 20 with 31 seconds to play.


Luck made sure they didn't on a day when little went right for the Vikings.


Minnesota ended the first half by blowing a coverage that Luck exploited for a 30-yard TD pass to Reggie Wayne for a 17-6 lead.


Then the Vikings allowed Indy (1-1) to start the second half with a 7-minute, 54-second drive with help from a roughing the kicker penalty on fourth-and-5 and a personal foul call on third-and-16. The penalties led to a 45-yard field goal.


And whenever the Vikings seemed to close in on Luck, he seemed to get away as he did on the 20-yard completions to Donnie Avery and Reggie Wayne on the Colts' final drive. Then he drew them offside with 13 seconds left to move the ball into field goal range.


"I just told somebody that if we were flying a jet, we wouldn't have got to him (Luck)," defensive tackle Kevin Williams said. "He was throwing the ball quick. I don't know what we could have done different."


The victory came in Luck's home debut, something even Peyton Manning couldn't achieve.


A year ago, without Manning or Luck , the Colts started 0-13 and the older guys had to deal with all kinds of speculation about a winless season.


The No. 1 draft pick made sure it didn't happen again. Indy's new quarterback finished 20 of 31 for 224 yards on a solid, not spectacular day.


He played the entire second half without three starters on the offensive line, yet managed to move the Colts into field-goal position twice and actually did his most impressive work eluding pass rushers and throwing on the run.


"It's just amazing that the guy's able to go out there and do the things he does as a rookie," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "He certainly had to put the ball on them, and he did."


Sure, Luck made a few miscues — such as taking a 17-yard sack on third-and-5 with 3:00 to play. Or spiking the ball when the clock was already stopped just before Vinatieri came onto the field for his field goal.


But he didn't let the miscues bother him.


"I guess some people were under the impression that the clock was going to run, so I guess we looked a little foolish killing the clock when it was already stopped ," Luck said, laughing as he explained why he spiked the ball with 12 seconds to play. "Oh well."


After settling for two field goals in the first 54 minutes, quarterback Christian Ponder rallied the Vikings late and got the big break he needed when defensive end Cory Redding batted his fourth down pass up into the air.


Kyle Rudolph got his hands on the ball, too, tipping it up again and toward teammate Stephen Burton, who hung onto the ball for a 7-yard TD. That made it 20-13 with 5:07 to play.


Ponder was 27 of 35 for 245 yards with two TDs, but was sacked four times. Percy Harvin caught 12 passes for 104 yards.


"We had opportunities. We just didn't capitalize on them," Adrian Peterson said after running 16 times for 60 yards and catching three passes for 20 yards.


Following the big third-down sack on Luck and a poor punt, Minnesota took over at the Indy 47 with 2:29 to play. The Vikings tied the score when Rudolph hung on for a 6-yard TD reception to tie the score with 31 seconds left.


"You want to score and the defense has to go out there and hold in that situation," Frazier said. "That's our league. In that situation where we were, we needed to get the ball in the end zone and we got to go out and play defense."


But 31 seconds was too much time for Luck.


He started the last Colts' series by rolling to the left and hooking up Donnie Avery for 20 yards. Then he stepped up in the pocket and threw to the right, a 20-yard strike to Wayne. Then he got the Vikings to jump offside, moving the ball to the Minnesota 35, and after the spike, Vinatieri lived up to his nickname as the best clutch kicker in league history.


"The kid's got poise," Wayne said. "He's got some winning in the blood."


Notes: Avery tied his career high with nine receptions. He also had 111 yards. ... Colts center Samson Satele left the game in the third quarter with an undisclosed knee injury. Right tackle Winston Justice and left guard Joe Reitz (knee) were inactive. ... During one stretch Sunday, the Colts ran 31 plays, compared with four for the Vikings — including a kneel down at the end of the first half. ... Colts have won all three home games (two in preseason) this season, but have lost all three on road. ... Blair Walsh has made all six of his field goal attempts in his first two games including a 51-yarder to open Sunday's scoring.