Field goals can't keep a good Manning down

The Vikings had plenty of scoring opportunities, but they had to settle for field goal attempts six times as their offense couldn't find the end zone. That left enough of an opening for Peyton Manning to find enough opportunities in the second half to pin an 18-15 loss on the Vikings.

The Vikings found little consolation in the quality of their last two opponents or dominating the Indianapolis Colts for nearly three quarters. When it came down to playing a full game, the Vikings couldn't compete in an 18-15 loss.

While the Vikings beat the Indianapolis Colts in several key categories, they couldn't score a single touchdown, and a five-field goal performance from Ryan Longwell wouldn't be enough.

The defense put in a strong effort against the run, holding Indianapolis to 25 yards on 19 carries on the game and held Colts quarterback Peyton Manning to 86 yards passing in the first half. But Manning found the explosive plays he needed in the second half.

Despite a 160-yard performance from running back Adrian Peterson, the passing game couldn't keep up once again. Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson completed 14 of 24 passes for 130 yards and didn't throw an interception, but he also couldn't take advantage of one-on-one matchups on the outside. Three of his completions went for a combined 66 yards, but the other 11 completions only netted 64 yards.

Conversely, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning got the big plays when he needed them, starting shortly after the Vikings took a 15-0 lead.

Minnesota built that lead with 4:09 to play in the third quarter, but it quickly evaporated when Manning started to find a rhythm for the first time in the game. After being hassled throughout the contest, one pass changed the complexion of the game, as a 58-yard completion, a lateral and an eventual touchdown pulled the Colts within a touchdown and two-point conversion of a tie.

Three drives later, Manning worked Indianapolis to a tie with three consecutive completions that covered 56 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne that was capped with a 2-point conversion run.

One drive later, Manning needed only a 20-yard completion to Wayne in order to put Adam Vinatieri into position for the 47-yard game-winning field goal with three seconds remaining.

Things didn't start that well for Manning. He completed his initial third-down pass to Anthony Gonzalez, but two plays later Antoine Winfield ended the Colts' first drive prematurely when he stepped in front of Marvin Harrison for an interception to set the Vikings up on their own 42-yard line.

Thanks to a 29-yard run around left end by Peterson, which was saved from being a touchdown by a Bob Sanders tackle, the Vikings were in field goal position. They wouldn't get much closer, however, as two passes to Bernard Berrian went incomplete and the Vikings had to settle for a 45-yard Ryan Longwell field goal and a 3-0 lead five minutes into the game.

The Minnesota defense continued to stymie the Colts' running game and get to Manning in the passing game. Meanwhile, the Vikings running game was racking up the yardage and the success. The Colts ended the first quarter with minus-3 yards rushing while Peterson was setting a Vikings record with 78 yards rushing in the first quarter, and that continued with the Vikings' third drive.

He started with rushes of 9 and 13 yards before giving way to Chester Taylor for a couple of downs, and Taylor ran for 6 and 7 yards before Peterson re-entered and gained 8 yards on two runs. But on third down, Jackson threw in the end zone for tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, who let the pass slip through his arms on a diving attempt. The Vikings had to settle for another Longwell field goal, this one from 27 yards out, for a 6-0 lead with nine seconds left in the first quarter.

Manning and Anthony Gonzalez got in a rhythm on Indianapolis' next drive, connecting on passes of 9, 18 and 10 yards. But Jared Allen ended the progress when he sacked Manning on third down, forcing a punt.

Peterson continued his assault by opening his next drive with three straight runs, good for 7, 4 and 23 yards, but the drive stalled after one more first down and ended with two consecutive run attempts by Jackson that netted no yards.

The teams traded punts to take the game late into the second quarter as Allen & Co. continued to bring the heat on Manning, but Jackson got one last shot to end an unproductive passing half on a positive note. He did that, getting the ball on the 20-yard line with 21 seconds left and completing consecutive passes of 23 yards to Shiancoe and 22 yards to Bobby Wade to set up Longwell for a final field goal of the first half. He nailed the 53-yarder to end the first half with a 9-0 lead.

Longwell continued to produce the Vikings' only points as the team mounted another drive that died once inside Indianapolis territory. This time, most of the advancement came in the passing game. On a rollout to open the half, Jackson hit Jim Kleinsasser and on the ensuing third down fired a bullet to Aundrae Allison for a 21-yard pickup on a slant route. But, once again, the drive needed Longwell to cap it with points, this one coming from 46 yards out and extending the lead to 12-0.

After allowing one first down to the Colts, E.J. Henderson sent the drive quickly backwards with a 10-yard sack when he chased down Manning from behind.

When Allison gave the Vikings good field position with a 27-yard punt return to the 46-yard line, Peterson drove them across midfield with a 13-yard run on first down. Allison continued to produce with a 16-yard reception on third down, but once at the 10-yard line, an incomplete screen pass brought the drive to a halt and Longwell's number was called once again. This time it was a 27-yarder that gave the Vikings a 15-0 lead with 4:09 to play in the third quarter.

It didn't take the Colts long to respond, however. Facing third-and-6 from their own 24-yard line, Manning found Gonzalez open down the left sideline. After a couple of cutback moves he had the ball inside the red zone and pitched it to Wayne as Gonzalez was going down. Wayne advanced to the 1-yard line before finally being brought down. It wouldn't be easy to get the ball into the end zone, as Manning was stopped twice on sneaks and Addai appeared to be stopped short on a third-down dive that was ruled to have crossed the plane and upheld on a challenge. The Colts' first score with 1:24 to play in the third quarter made it 15-7 but also gave them momentum with the only touchdown of the game to that point.

That momentum carried over to the defense, as Dwight Freeney knocked the ball away from Jackson and DT Kenyunta Dawson recovered it at the Minnesota 28-yard line. With a 16-yard pass to Harrison to the 12-yard line, a score looked all but assured. But when Addai was stuffed for no gain and Manning threw two incompletions, Adam Vinatieri pushed a 30-yard field goal attempt wide right.

The Vikings generated one first down on their next drive, but it was the defense that came up with a big play in the fourth quarter. Henderson tipped a Manning pass and Gordon came away with the interception at midfield with 10:30 to play, but the Vikings couldn't capitalize when Longwell's sixth field goal attempt hooked wide left from 48 yards out.

The Colts quickly tied the game when Manning returned with three consecutive completions – 17 yards to Wayne, 12 yards to Gijon Robinson and 32 yards to Wayne for a touchdown. When the Colts surprised many with a Dominic Rhodes run for the 2-point conversion, game was knotted at 15.

Wade gave the Vikings a first down with an 11-yard pass, but on consecutive pass plays Wade was held up from getting inside for a catch and Bernard Berrian was tripped on incidental contact to bring that drive to a close.

Despite trading punts, the Colts were gaining an advantage in field position with two first downs and their final punt of the game left the Vikings on the 2-yard line. Three plays and a punt and the Colts were in the position they wanted – starting at the 50-yard line with 1:07 to play. The Vikings had Manning at third-and-9, but a 20-yard completion to the 29-yard line was all he needed to get Vinatieri into scoring position. After a spike of the ball to stop the clock, Vinatieri booted the Colts to a 18-15 win.

The loss set the Vikings back to 0-2 with their first home loss of the season and plenty to correct, especially on offense.

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