What a first half for the Vikings. Okay it wasn’t pretty on offense but it was effective – effective in that the Vikings were able to control the clock and keep the Chargers’ offense off the field. Adrian Peterson had a tough time finding running lanes most of the time, but was still able to break a 46-yarder setting up a 3-yard Donovan McNabb-to-Michael Jenkins TD pass to give the Vikes a 17-7 lead.
The key defensive series came after the Vikings scored that second TD (their first came on a Percy Harvin game-opening kickoff return). The Chargers, down by 10, tried to open things up a little more after spending much of the first half seemingly trying to feel the Vikings out…and frankly should’ve scored a TD when someone in the Vikings’ secondary – probably Jamarca Sanford – blew a coverage, allowing Vincent Jackson to get wide open only to see Philip Rivers overthrow him. But the Vikings, despite the Chargers’ high-powered offensive talent, were able to hold, largely thanks to big efforts by Antoine Winfield, E.J. Henderson and Husain Abdullah. San Diego was ultimately forced to go for it on 4th-and-long because their kicker Nate Kaeding was out with injury…and Rivers threw incomplete into the end zone to end the threat.
The first half heroes for the Vikings were mostly the defensive guys, especially Winfield, E.J. Henderson, Chad Greenway, Brian Robison and Jared Allen. Things were shaky for some of the lesser defensive players like Chris Cook. Fred Pagac dialed up some blitzes to keep Philip Rivers off-balance. The Chargers scored their only TD coming off an early McNabb INT when an audible went awry, leading to an interception by Shaun Phillips. Outside of that miscue, the Vikings played a pretty clean first half, committing only 3 penalties.
The Chargers did end up having a chance to score late in the first half, thanks to some more aggressive San Diego playcalling and a bad penalty by Chris Cook, but the threat was ended when Brian Robison grabbed Philip Rivers’ arm on a pass, leading to an Antoine Winfield interception.