Minneapolis, MN – Blair Walsh booted a 38-yard field goal in overtime as the Minnesota Vikings edged the Jacksonville Jaguars, 26-23, in the season opener for both teams at Mall of America Field.
After Walsh knocked through the game-tying 55-yarder in the closing seconds of regulation, Minnesota won the toss and began the overtime period with the ball at its own 25.
Adrian Peterson, playing in his first game since suffering torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee late last season, got the Vikes into Jacksonville territory with a 20-yard run to the 42. Christian Ponder hit Toby Gerhart for eight yards on 3rd-and-13 to get down to the Jags 20, and Walsh easily booted it through the uprights to give his team the lead.
As per the new overtime rules, Jacksonville got the ball and needed at least a field goal to keep the game going, but Blaine Gabbert threw an incomplete pass on 4th-and-2, sealing the win for the Vikings.
"It sure does feel good to play at home and open the season with a win," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "You just have to take your hat off to our players for the effort that they gave."
Peterson ended his day with 84 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns, while Ponder threw for 270 yards on 20-of-27 passing for the Vikings (1-0), who finished last season 3-13.
Percy Harvin led the receiving corps with six receptions for 84 yards and Kyle Rudolph contributed five catches for 67 yards.
Maurice Jones-Drew, who ended a lengthy contract hold out last Sunday without a new deal, rushed for 77 yards on 19 carries. Gabbert threw for 260 yards and two scores on 23-of-39 passing for the Jags (0-1), who went 5-11 last season.
"I'm obviously disappointed for the players," Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey said. "But we stayed in it to the end and had a chance to win there. I was very proud of them for that."
Jacksonville opened the scoring on its first possession of the game. Gabbert led an extensive 17-play, 77-yard march that ate up over nine minutes of game time. The drive stalled deep in Vikings territory and Josh Scobee was good on a 19-yard field goal to give the Jags the lead.
The Jags extended their lead to 9-0 in the second quarter thanks to another lengthy drive. Facing a 2nd-and-11 from his own 21, Gabbert gave the Jags some breathing room with a 26-yard completion down the right sideline to Laurent Robinson, placing the ball at the 47.
Gabbert connected with Marcedes Lewis on a 1-yard TD strike, capping the 11- play, 78-yard march. Scobee's extra point try was blocked.
The Vikings got their offense rolling in the latter stages of the second quarter. Starting with excellent field position at their own 41 and 2:28 on the clock, Ponder hit Harvin on a 16-yard strike to move into Jacksonville territory.
Four plays later, Ponder found Jenkins on a slant for 14 yards to the Jags' five, and Peterson capped the 7-play, 59-yard drive with a 3-yard TD scamper up the middle, cutting the lead to 9-7 at the break.
Minnesota began its first possession of the second half at the Jaguars' 44 thanks to a fumble recovery by Kevin Williams.
Faced with a short field, Peterson took a handoff on first play of the drive around the right end for 19 yards, and Ponder hit Harvin over the middle for 19 more yards down to the Jacksonville six. Two plays later, Peterson burst through the middle for a 2-yard score and a 14-9 lead.
The Jacksonville defense came up with a big play midway through the third as Terrance Knighton sacked Ponder, who lost the ball. It was recovered by C.J. Mosley at the Minnesota 16.
From there, the Jags drive stalled and Scobee was good from 26 yards out to cut the deficit to 14-12.
On the Vikings' ensuing touch, Ponder led his team 75 yards in 11 plays and Walsh capped the drive with a 20-yard field goal to widen the margin to 17-12.
Scobee nailed a 47-yarder to finish off a 10-play, 51-yard drive on the next Jacksonville possession, but the Vikings came right back with a 9-play, 57- yard drive which culminated in a 42-yard field goal from Walsh to make it a five-point game.
With 1:18 on the clock, the Jags started their last possession of regulation at their own 24. Gabbert went 4-for-6 on the drive, including a 39-yard touchdown strike to Cecil Shorts, and the two-point conversion gave Jacksonville a 23-20 lead.
But, Ponder got his team to the Jacksonville 37 on the ensuing drive and Walsh booted a 55-yard field goal to send it to overtime.
Shorts finished with four catches and 74 yards ... Jones-Drew was fined $1.2 million by the team for his 38-day holdout ... Minnesota leads the all-time series, 4-1 and has won the past three meetings ... Minnesota finished with 389 yards of total offense, while Jacksonville had 362 yards ... The Vikings converted 2-of-10 third down opportunities, while the Jags went 9-of-18 on third down.