49ers Stop A.D., Not Vikings' Momentum

The San Francisco 49ers committed to stopping the Vikings' rushing attack, but one explosive run, an efficient passing game and another impressive defensive performance made up for a lack of an explosive Adrian Peterson. It added up to a 27-7 Minnesota Vikings win on the road and a four-game winning streak.

Adrian who? Well, maybe the Minnesota Vikings aren't quite good enough to start thinking about all they've accomplished since their star running back tore a lateral collateral ligament a month ago in Green Bay, but in two games without him and two game with his services limited, the Vikings have gone 4-0 and are in control of their own playoff destiny after a 27-7 drubbing of the San Francisco 49ers.

The Vikings are now 7-6 and have a winning record for the first time since they opened the season with a win against the Atlanta Falcons. On Sunday at Monster Park in San Francisco, they did it with an opportunistic defense and one explosive play on offense from their "other" running back – Chester Taylor – who was the only Minnesota running back to gain more than 3 yards rushing.

The 49ers committed to stopping the Vikings' running game and limited Peterson to only 3 yards on 14 carries, but Taylor broke loose for an 84-yard touchdown run in the second quarter that capped the Vikings' scoring for the day and gave them a 27-0 lead that they took to halftime.

To get to that point, they also used an 18-yard interception return for a touchdown by Kevin Williams that came with only 14 seconds elapsed in the game. The Minnesota defense totaled three recoveries on five San Francisco fumbles and two interceptions. But to build their big first-half lead, they relied on key defensive stops and another efficient game from quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. With San Francisco locked on limiting the Vikings' rushing attack, Jackson completed 16 of 25 passes for one touchdown, no interceptions and a 95.9 passer rating.

The 49ers had plenty of opportunities in the first half, thanks to two long kickoff returns into Vikings territory and one fumble by wide receiver Aundrae Allison, but a stout Minnesota defense created the necessary turnovers and made big third- and fourth-down stops when necessary.

The game couldn't have started better for the Vikings. After a false start on 49ers tight end Vernon Davis on the first snap of the game, Williams batted Trent Dilfer's first pass attempt into the air and intercepted it, rumbling 18 yards for his second interception for the touchdown this season. Only 14 seconds into the game, the Vikings had a 7-0 lead.

The defense allowed San Francisco to get to midfield with a 15-yard yard run by Frank Gore and a 10-yard pass to Ashley Lelie, but buckled down after that and forced a punt.

The offense took its first drive and moved into scoring position. It started with Sidney Rice moving the chains on second down with a 12-yard reception, followed by another 12-yard gain, this one coming on a Jackson scramble. Tony Richardson took the third consecutive second-down play for another 12-yard gain on a checkdown pass from Jackson, who picked up the fourth first down of the game with a 10-yard pass to Chester Taylor. However, after getting to the 30-yard line, the drive stalled and Ryan Longwell drove a 48-yard field through the uprights for a 10-0 lead with 5:08 to play in the first quarter.

The defense held up again. After the 49ers' passing game produced a first down, a fumbled toss to Gore left the 49ers in an unfavorable hole they couldn't break out of on third-and-18, forcing their second punt of the game.

In the absence of the deactivated Troy Williamson, Robert Ferguson provided the big plays on the Vikings' first offensive touchdown drive. Second down was the charm on Ferguson's first catch, as he gained 23 yards on the second play of the drive. After a third-down conversion run by Peterson, tight end Visanthe Shiancoe dove and dropped an end zone pass, but Ferguson followed that play with a quick slant pass that he caught, eluding one defender and breaking to the outside for a 19-yard touchdown and a 17-0 lead only 46 seconds into the second quarter.

The teams traded punts before Gore took a first-down handoff and was stripped of the ball by defensive tackle Conrad Bolston. E.J. Henderson recovered and returned it to the 23-yard line and the Vikings offense was back on the field in scoring position.

While the offense lost 5 yards, Longwell still was able to kick a 46-yard field goal for a 20-0 lead with 7:16 left in the first half.

Once again, San Francisco's offense wasn't able to do much, this time going three-and-out on three consecutive incompletions, but it wouldn't take the Vikings long to score again. On the second play of their ensuing drive, Taylor took a handoff going to his left, picked up a block by Richardson, eluded another defender and started his sprint down the left sideline. On the way to the end zone, Taylor picked up repeated blocks by Ferguson and stiff-armed his way past Nate Clements for an 84-yard touchdown and a 27-0 lead, a score that held up for the remaining 5:52 of the first half.

As if the 49ers' first-half deficit wasn't bad enough, Dilfer was knocked out of the game with a head injury on a fourth-down, drive-halting hit by Charles Gordon.

That meant former Viking Shaun Hill was the leading man in the second half for the 49ers, and he looked like it on his first drive. He started with a 9-yard completion to Delanie Walker and followed with completions to Darrell Jackson for 11 yards, Davis for 7 and Arnaz Battle for 8 before throwing his first incompletion. After Gore moved the chains for the third time in the drive, Hill found Walker for 5 yards and then Battle in the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown with 7:06 to play in the third quarter.

While the Vikings had a hard time establishing much more offense in the third quarter, Hill's euphoria didn't last long either. He hooked up with Walker for a 26-yard pass play to open his second series, but two plays later the ball slip out of his hand during a throw and floated right to Pat Williams, who corralled the interception and was brought down shortly thereafter.

But even the second interception of the game by a Vikings defensive tackle wasn't enough to break up the hapless second half. The teams continued to trade punts and fumbles into the fourth quarter as the Vikings tried to run the clock with rushing play against a defense locked on the run. The 49ers, meanwhile, tried to re-establish the magic that Hill found in his first drive.

They would never get that going again, as the Vikings defense allowed passes underneath the coverage but never came close to giving up a big play that could cripple their large lead. Eventually, a Spencer Johnson fumble recovery with less than two minutes to play allowed the Vikings to kneel on the ball and take their four-game winning streak onto the national stage of "Monday Night Football" against the division rival Chicago Bears on Dec. 17.

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