The Vikings started with the ball and opened with an impressive drive. Jerick McKinnon had two 8-yard runs and Sam Bradford moved the ball across midfield with a 23-yard pass to Adam Thielen, who got the start for the injured Stefon Diggs. Two plays later, Bradford hit Thielen on a pump-and-go for a 36-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead less than four minutes into the game.
After the defense forced a three-and-out, Bradford worked the Vikings back into Houston territory with a quick pass to Cordarrelle Patterson before finding a wide open Matt Asiata on Minnesota’s initial third-down attempt of the game for a 23-yard gain into the red zone. After MicKinnon picked up one first down, Matt Asiata eventually punched it in from 1 yard out, giving Minnesota a 14-0 lead with 6:28 to play.
At that point, the Vikings had picked up nine first downs to Houston’s zero and 129 yards to Houston’s 3.
The Vikings ended the quarter with a 14-0 lead with 10 first downs and 141 yards of offense.
Minnesota started the second quarter moving the ball into Houston territory on their fourth drive. An 11-yard pass to Jarius Wright on third down moved the ball inside the red zone and a 15-yard completion to Patterson set up third-and-goal at the 1-yard line, but Bradford’s pass for Zach Line went incomplete and the team settled for a 17-0 lead on a Blair Walsh 19-yard field goal with 9:58 to play in the first half.
However, it didn’t take long for the Vikings to find their next touchdown. Harrison Smith nearly had it but dropped what would have been a pick-six interception. Instead, the Vikings forced another three-and-out by the Texans and Marcus Sherels returned the punt 79 yards for a touchdown and a 24-0 lead.
The Texans responded with a drive that picked up two first downs by penalties on Xavier Rhodes, a 34-yard pass interference penalty and a holding call that negated a sack. That got Houston into position for a 38-yard field goal by Novak for their first points of the game to cut Minnesota’s lead to 24-3 with 5:42 to play in the half.
When T.J. Clemmings got badly beat on by Whitney Mercilus for a 10-yard sack, the Vikings had their second three-and-out of the game to set up good field position for the Texans’ final drive of the half.
After getting across midfield, Everson Griffen gave the Texans their third first down of the game by penalty when he jumped offside on fourth-and-1, negating his own sack of Brock Osweiler. The Texans picked up their initial first down without a penalty, but had to settle for a 30-yard field goal to close the first-half scoring with Minnesota up 24-6.
The Vikings defense gave up only five first downs (three by penalty) and 67 yards of offense. Sam Bradford finished the half completing 13 of 18 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown.
After an exchange of punts, the Vikings ended Houston’s second drive of the second half with an Andrew Sendejo interception, but the Vikings were forced to punt it back to the Texans.
The Vikings didn’t put up any points in the third quarter, although they closed it out by knocking on the door of the end zone, but they also kept their streak of not allowing any points in the third quarter and led 24-6 at the start of the fourth quarter.
Capitalizing on their drive at the end of the third quarter, the Vikings used a 20-yard pass to Asiata to get in the red zone and capped the drive with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Patterson for a 31-6 lead less than a minute into the final quarter.
Two possession later, the Texans got on the board, driving 75 yards in 12 plays, scoring their first touchdown of the game with a 1-yard pass to DeAndre Hopkins, but the Vikings were still up 31-13 with 3:46 to play.
The Vikings responded with a drive into Houston territory but could afford to kneel on the ball for the 31-13 win.
The defense gave up 214 yards and only 59 rushing while Bradford finished the game 22 of 30 for 271 yards and two touchdowns with Thielen pulling in seven catches for 127 yards.
The Minnesota Vikings will be without their top pass catcher against the Houston Texans on Sunday.
WR Stefon Diggs has officially been ruled out about 90 minutes before the noon Central game. Diggs has been struggling with a groin injury for a few weeks but has been able to play through it up until this point. He was listed as doubtful on Friday after not practicing all week.
Adam Thielen is getting the start for Diggs.
Also out for the Vikings is TE Rhett Ellison (knee), who was also listed as doubtful, along with RT Andre Smith, TE David Morgan and DT Sharrif Floyd, who were all ruled out on Friday. Jeremiah Sirles will make his first start at right tackle for Smith. Shamar Stephen will continue to start for Floyd at defensive tackle.
The Texans made QB Brandon Weeden, TE Stephen Anderson, RB Jonathan Grimes, G Oday Aboushi, CB Kareem Jackson, DE Brandon Dunn and WR Keith Mumphery inactive.