Turning point: Ordinary to extraordinary

A simple handoff turned into a quick score on the offense's first play from scrimmage, and the Vikings' last drive of the first half was more methodical but every bit as productive. Will the one-two punch of Peterson running and Favre slinging become commonplace for the Vikings?

The keys to winning on the road in the road in the NFL often rely on taking the crowd out of a game. In Monday's 17-10 win over the Houston Texans, the Vikings did just that with their first and last drives of the first half, creating big-play turning points of the game.

The Vikings got the opening kickoff and the Houston crowd was in full throat. And why not? Is isn't very often that the Monday night spotlight has visited Houston since the Texans joined the NFL seven years ago, and the home fans were going to make the most of it – for about 18 seconds.

With the ball on the 25-yard line and all the attention on Brett Favre and whether the old gunslinger would come out firing on the first drive, he gave an ordinary handoff to Adrian Peterson, who did extraordinary things. Rookie Phil Loadholt hit a seal block on the right side of the line and Peterson got to the corner, where the footrace was on. He blew past defenders and raced 75 yards into the end zone. Before most of the Texans fans had even found their seats, Houston was already in a 7-0 hole.

The Vikings would never surrender that lead. The closest the Texans would come to getting back into the game was following an 11-play drive that culminated in a touchdown, cutting the Vikings lead to 10-7 with 3:38 to play in the half. With the expectation that Favre would play only the first half (he played the first series of the third quarter too), the Vikings planned to test their two-minute offense with the new guy at the wheel.

After being held to just 21 yards on the eight carries following his initial TD burst, Peterson was his old self, taking three straight carries for 6, 5 and 15 yards into Texans territory at the two-minute warning. From there, it was all Favre.

Favre converted a third-and-7 pass of 10 yards to Sidney Rice to move the chains, but the Vikings were their own worst enemy after that. An illegal shift and a holding call backed them up to a first-and-25 situation at midfield. After a 9-yard draw to Chester Taylor, Favre looked off the defense and zipped a 13-yard pass to Percy Harvin for a first down, calling a timeout with 37 seconds to play. On the next play, Favre found Taylor open on the right sideline for a short pass, but a couple of moves and sloppy tackling later, Taylor was waltzing into the end zone with a 28-yard touchdown reception – giving the Vikings a 17-7 lead, restoring control of the momentum and quieting down the Reliant Stadium crowd.

The Vikings historically have had trouble winning on the road, but after posting a pair of preseason wins at Houston and Indianapolis they would seem to have learned the magic formula – come out strong and shut the fans up and then close the door. It can create critical turning points.

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