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Photo - Aj Mansour (KFAN)
By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Minneapolis, MN - When Leslie Frazier and the Minnesota Vikings took the field Sunday morning to face the Jacksonville Jaguars they expected to win. What they didn't necessarily expect was finding themselves down by three with twenty seconds remaining in the game and having to fight their way out of a hole to get the victory.
The final score on the scoreboard read Vikings 26, Jaguars 23, but early on in this one there were certainly questions of whether or not the Vikings would score more than 10 points total.
Coming out of the gates, the Vikings looked out matched. Finding themselves down 9-0 with just over two minutes remaining in the second quarter, Christian Ponder and the Vikings offense had only achieved two first downs and were being out-gained 58 total yards. Heading into the half Ponder led Minnesota down the field where Adrian Peterson took a handoff up the middle for a touchdown finally getting the Vikings on the board.
"It was huge," Ponder said of the score before the half. "We went into 2 minute offense and when you do that, things are naturally going to pick up. I think that was a great starting point to set the tone for the second half. I think that definitely changed the momentum."
After the half, Peterson added another touchdown and Blair Walsh chipped in with two field goals bringing the score to 20-15 in favor of the Vikings. But Blaine Gabbert and the Jaguars with 1:18 left in the game.
Sophomore QB Blaine Gabbert took to the field with the Jacksonville offense and methodically lead the Jaguars to the Vikings 39 yard line where Chris Cook got twisted and Gabbert connected with Cecil Shorts deep in the right corner of the endzone. Up 21-20, the Jags went for two and converted on a wide open pass to Justin Blackmon giving Jacksonville a three-point lead with only twenty seconds left to play.
"As you know," Frazier said after the game. "We went through a lot of [losing close games] a season ago and I said, ‘Man, this shouldn’t be happening. It just should not happen."
If ever a stadium good be deflated, both literally and figuratively, the Metrodome was. Jacksonville fans celebrated in jubilation as Vikings fans headed for the exits, frustrated once again.
The ensuing kickoff left the Vikings with only fourteen seconds and the ball on their own 31-yard line. Christian Ponder did have three timeouts to work with, but our version of the second year quarterback had yet to prove he had the poise to overcome such a large deficit.
Trailing by a field goal, Ponder and the Vikings offense utilized the clock and their three remaining timeouts to move the ball across midfield and to the Jaguars 37-yard line with four second remaining.
Cue the rookie kicker, yeah I said rookie kicker.
Blair Walsh had missed a field goal in three consecutive (preseason) games so far in his NFL career and was preparing to attempt a 55-yard bomb to send the game into overtime.
"I've played this scenario out over and over," Walsh said of his first game in the NFL. "This [scenario] was never in it!"
With all eleven Jaguars charging furiously, holder Chris Kluwe snagged a high snap and placed it on the ground in time for Walsh to deliver the blow. And just like that, the kick was off.
"Our o-line is 7 feet tall average and I'm five-foot ten," Walsh said after the game. "I could barely see it so I moved a little bit to the side and I saw it going center and I knew it had the leg on it."
Walsh was able to grab sight of the kick just as it was heading through the uprights to send the game to overtime with a tie at 23-23.
The Vikings won the toss and opted to receive the ball to open the extra period where they handed the ball to their star running back, Adrian Peterson, and got out of the way. Peterson, who finished the game with 84 yards and two touchdowns, got the Vikings into field goal range again and Walsh again took to the field with ice in his veins and nailed a 38-yarder to give the Vikings a 26-23 lead.
Under the new overtime rules, since the Vikings settled for a field goal, the Jaguars had one last chance to match or better Minnesota's three pointer. Four plays later, the Jaguars were unable to move the ball and the game went into the books as a Vikings victory.
It wasn't necessarily the prettiest game, but a win is a win and the Vikings opened up the season at home getting a victory.
CLICK HERE to listen to post-game interviews with Adrian Peterson, Christian Ponder, Leslie Frazier, Percy Harvin and Blair Walsh.
Aj Mansour covers Minnesota Sports for KFAN.com. Feel free to leave comments and questions regarding this post in the space provided below. For Vikings' updates and breaking Vikings' news, follow Aj on Twitter. @AjMansourKFAN