MINNESOTA (26) d JACKSONVILLE (23) [OT]
The Headline: Vikings top the Jaguars in the first regular season test of the new overtime rules.
Two quarterbacks who struggled last year as rookies made great starts to their sophomore campaigns by having impressive if unspectacular games. Christian Ponder looked good for the Vikings going 20/27 on the way to 270 yards and while he did not throw for a touchdown he didn’t throw an interception either. Blaine Gabbert meanwhile spent most of last year looking like a deer in the headlights and while he had a few uncertain moments he looked more in control and had some great throws, especially on the drive to give the Jaguars the lead in the fourth quarter which was capped with a great throw to Cecil Shorts.
Both quarterbacks had to control the game with the knowledge that their running backs who were limited due to interrupted offseasons. Maurice Jones-Drew for the Jaguars was coming off a holdout that achieved absolutely nothing and he saw his workload increase during the game, finishing with 19 carries for 77 yards, a solid day out. Meanwhile Adrian Peterson came off an ACL tear on Christmas Eve and worked his way back into the lineup to score two touchdowns.
Key Stat: Minnesota, 0 first downs in overtime.
Despite reports of some players thinking it was over after the Vikings scored in overtime the Jaguars had a chance to tie the game or even win it but they couldn’t muster a first down when they needed to most.
Key Play: Blair Walsh 55 yard field goal to tie the game 23-23
You’re making your NFL debut; you’ve gone 2/2 on field goals so far and your team trails by 3 with time left for one last kick to try and send the game into overtime. Oh and the kick is from 55 yards out just for added difficulty points. Anyone wishing this was them? Because that’s the position Walsh found himself in and he nailed his kick straight down the middle and with room to spare as well. Good on the rookie for coming through.
Man of the Match: Adrian Peterson
17 carries, 84 yards, 2 touchdowns.
It may not have been the Peterson we are all used to seeing, nobody comes back 100% from an injury like that in their first game but it was great seeing Peterson on the field once again as he came in and reminded fans of what he was capable of with a big carry in overtime to push the Vikings into range.