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Sep 9, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) yells as he runs onto the field to start the game with the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-US PRESSWIRE

Vikings Beat Jaguars 26-23 In Overtime Thriller

Caught your breath yet? Good. Let’s go over what a crazy, exciting game that was. It didn’t exactly start very excitingly for the Vikings…well outside of Adrian Peterson making his long-anticipated return. But once the euphoria of Adrian’s return subsided, fans settled in to a sad reality. The Vikings offense looked terrible. The line wasn’t blocking that well, Christian Ponder looked out of sync, Bill Musgrave was making some of his usual puzzling playcalls. And, worst of all, Percy Harvin was MIA.

Thankfully, the Vikes’ defense held up okay during the offensive malaise. Jacksonville only managed nine points when they easily could’ve run out to a two-TD lead. The Jags were held in check long enough for the Vikings to figure it out on offense. And once they figured it out, it stayed figured out.

What sparked the amazing offensive turnaround? Percy Harvin. The Vikes started feeding him the ball, and suddenly everything opened up. That includes the running game. The half ended with a quick, efficient drive capped by Adrian’s 3 yard TD run. Could the Vikings carry the momentum into the second half? Turned out they could. The lead was theirs after another well-executed drive, ended with another AD touchdown. Vikes up 14-9 and looking good.

But the game was a long long way from over. The two teams traded field goals, Jacksonville’s coming after a Christian Ponder fumble, the one big blemish on the QB’s otherwise very solid day. The Vikings took a 20-15 lead on Blair Walsh’s second field goal of the day and were looking good to score the win. But Blaine Gabbert would have his say before it was over. The Jags’ playcalling was conservative most of the day but they finally opened it up when they had do. Gabbert found Cecil Shorts in one-on-one coverage against Chris Cook, and Shorts turned Cook around and made a diving TD catch to put the Jags up with only 20 seconds left.

The turnaround left fans stunned. But the Vikings still had plenty of fight left in them. Christian Ponder hit a few quick passes to put the team within reasonable field goal range. Blair Walsh trotted out and made a 55-yard field goal to send it into overtime. The Vikes won the toss and moved the ball down, thanks largely to Adrian Peterson’s longest run of the day, and Walsh made another field goal to put the Vikings ahead.

In past years that would’ve been the game, but under the new overtime rules, the Jaguars got the ball back for one last shot. The Vikings defense, which showed the ability to rise up in key moments all day (with the glaring exception of Chris Cook’s poor coverage on Shorts), held when it needed to. The Jags failed on a fourth down attempt and the Vikings had the victory.

We’ll have tons more coverage of this big win over the next couple of days. Tons to talk about here including a big day for Christian Ponder, a nice game for a couple of the rookies, and of course Adrian Peterson’s thrilling return to the field.

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