It was redemption for Vinatieri, who missed a 30-yard field goal earlier in the game. After a Peyton Manning pass to Reggie Wayne for 20 yards to the Minnesota 29-yard-line, Manning spiked the ball with eight seconds left on the clock to set up Vinatieri's game-winning attempt.
The Colts escaped the Metrodome with a 1-1 record. Minnesota dropped to 0-2 on the young season.
Early on, it was all Vikings, as the Colts couldn't get anything going on offense, managing just 85 yards on 31 plays in the first half. Meanwhile, Minnesota was slicing through the Colts defense with star running back Adrian Peterson, who had 118 yards in the first half and finished with 160 yards on 29 carries.
Peyton Manning claps after completing a touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne
AP Photo/Jim Mone
The Colts defense turned out to be the ultimate bend-but-don't break unit Sunday, giving up big yards but keeping the Vikings out of the end zone all day. Minnesota had to settle for five Ryan Longwell field goals, the last of which came with 4:09 left in the third quarter.
By that point, things were looking bleak for the Colts, but a long pass down the left sideline from Manning to Anthony Gonzalez gave the offense the spark they needed.
Gonzalez got behind the Minnesota secondary for a 58-yard gain. After a cutback, he was being tackled, but lateraled to Reggie Wayne, who carried it 18 more yards in for an apparent touchdown.
Wayne was eventually ruled down at the one-yard line, and Joseph Addai scored three plays later to put the Colts on the board.
Two plays later, Dwight Freeney stripped the ball from Minnesota quarterback Tavaris Jackson, and the Colts looked to be back in business. The drive broke down at the Minnesota 12-yard line, however, and Vinatieri pushed his field goal attempt wide right.
The Indianapolis defense continued to hold, however, and allowed just three first downs the rest of the game. Minnesota couldn't capitalize on a Charles Gordon interception, and Manning made the Vikings pay when he got the ball back, connecting on passes of 17, 12 and 32 yards, with the last going to Wayne for a touchdown. Dominic Rhodes scored on a two-point conversion to tie the game with 6:01 left to play.
The two teams traded punts after that, and Tim Jennings was able to down Hunter Smith's kick at the Minnesota two-yard line with 1:42 left. The Colts forced the Vikings to go three-and-out, and took over at midfield with 1:07 left to set up Manning's completion to Wayne and Vinatieri's game-winning boot.
Manning finished the game hitting on 26-of-42 passes for 311 yards, with 225 of those coming in the second half. The Colts never did get their running game going, managing just 25 yards on 19 attempts.
Gonzalez had the best game of his young career, as the second-year man from Ohio State caught nine passes for 137 yards. Wayne added five catches for 93 yards.
Jackson was booed consistently by the Minnesota crowd in the second half, but he actually finished the game with a slightly higher passer rating than Manning, 73.3-72.6. But he couldn't find his receivers for crucial first downs in the second half, allowing the Colts to come back.