The Colts used a heavy dose of Frank Gore on their first extended drive. The first five plays went to Gore and T.Y. Hilton converted the second third-down attempt with a 12-yard reception. Eventually, the defense held and the Colts settled for a 48-yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri.
Minnesota was set on giving the ball to Adrian Peterson on his first two plays, gaining only 2 yards on a run and 1 yard on a pass before going three-and-out. When Chester Rogers returned the punt 30 yards to near midfield, the Colts were in business again.
Andrew Luck bought time on the initial third down of the drive and found T.Y. Hilton deep after he turned around Anthony Harris for a 31-yard gain inside the red zone. The Vikings looked to have Indianapolis stopped at the 3-yard line, but Linval Joseph was called for unsportsmanlike conduct on the field goal, giving Luck a new set of downs at the 1-yard line. From there, Robert Turbin muscled his way in for the 1-yard touchdown and a 10-0 Colts lead with 2:22 to play in the first quarter.
The Vikings defense got its first three-and-out stop of the Colts to start the second quarter, but the offense couldn’t do anything with it, punting it back to Indianapolis.
Starting at the 8-yard line didn’t seem to bother Luck much. He picked apart the Vikings defense with four straight completions for 31 yards and defensive holding calls on the Vikings put the Colts near midfield. Gore continued to churn out intermediate runs before Luck hit Erik Swoope with consecutive passes of 16 and 27 yards with linebackers Eric Kendricks and Chad Greenway trailing in coverage, the second one going for a touchdown and a 17-0 Indianapolis lead midway through the second quarter.
The Vikings looked like they would muster some offensive momentum with a 28-yard pass to Kyle Rudolph to start their next drive. When Peterson churned forward for a 12-yard gain, he was stripped of the ball and the Colts recovered at their own 9-yard line.
Luck picked up a first down with a 13-yard pass to TE Jack Doyle, then another to TE Dwayne Allen with a 13-yard completion. After a couple more penalties on the Vikings, the Colts were in the red zone, where Robert Turbin exploited bad tackling on his way to a 6-yard touchdown and a 24-0 lead.
The Vikings gave the Colts one more chance when Bradford was intercepted by Mike Adams on the first play of the next drive. After Gore run, Vinatieri came on for a 50-yard field goal to give Indianapolis the 27-0 halftime lead.
Here is how bad of an embarrassment the first half was for the Vikings:
STATS: The Colts outgained the Vikings 281-69, had 21 first downs to two, went 5-for-8 on third downs with Minnesota going 0-for-3. The Colts ran 47 offensive plays to the Vikings’ 13 and held a 23:32 to 6:28 time-of-possession advantage. Luck was 16-for-23 for 183 yards and a touchdown and Gore rushed 18 times for 73 yards. Bradford was only 5-for-8 for 52 yards and an interception while Peterson ran four times for 16 yards.
The Viking started the second half and appeared to be picking up signs of hope on the offensive side. Charles Johnson picked up first downs with catches of 12 and 10 yards, but Adam Thielen was knocked out of the game after taking a punishing hit that drew a penalty. He ended up in the concussion protocol, but Johnson picked up two more first downs before Robert Mathis beat T.J. Clemmings to the edge for a strip sack of Bradford that DT Henry Anderson recovered to thwart another Vikings drive that ended in scoring territory.
The Vikings got their first score of the game on the next drive that featured no Peterson in a hurry-up, shotgun-oriented offense. Bradford took advantage of prevent coverage with numerous intermediate passes to keep the chains moving, with the longest gain being a 20-yard catch-and-run by Matt Asiata into the red zone. However, another sack of Bradford given up by Clemmings forced a 32-yard field goal by Kai Forbath, making it 27-3 with 3:51 to play in the third quarter.
The Colts drove to midfield at the end of the third quarter, then hit a 50-yard strike to a wide-open Phillip Dorsett to put a crushing blow on the Vikings defense and give the Colts a 34-3 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter.
The Vikings responded with another drive into scoring position with the big play a 23-yarder to Kyle Rudolph, but once again a sack forced Forbath onto the field for a 51-yard field goal to make it 34-6 with 11:57 left to play.
When the Vikings couldn’t convert fourth down on their next drive, it set up the Colts on the Minnesota 30 with QB Scott Tolzien in the game for the Colts. They turned over the ball on downs and the game eventually ended with Bradford taking a second-down sack in the red zone.
STATS: Luck finished the game completing 21 of 28 passes for 250 yards, two touchdowns and a 125.6 rating while Gore rushed 26 times for 101 yards. Peterson ran only six times for 22 yards and had a critical fumble in the red zone.
Bradford finished completing 32 of 42 passes for 291 yards and an interception for only an 84.5 rating, but 239 of those yards came in the second half with the game already largely out of reach.null