Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Vikings take 17-3 halftime lead

Posted by: Mark Craig under Vikings, NFC, Adrian Peterson, Chad Greenway Updated: September 23, 2012 - 1:25 PM

So the Vikings play the 49ers and score on three of four first-half possessions, including two touchdowns, hold the 49ers to 37 yards rushing and block a David Akers' 43-yard field goal?

Yeah, we all saw that one coming, right?

The Vikings lead 17-3 at the half with Christian Ponder having thrown for a touchdown and run for one. He's completed 15 of 23 passes for 143 yards, a 96.8 passer rating and a 1-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph on fourth-and-goal. Ponder also has three carries for 34 yards and a 23-yard touchdown run up the middle.

The Vikings took the opening kickoff and went 82 yards in 16 plays against one of the best defenses in the league. Ponder's 1-yard touchdown pass to Rudolph on fourth-and-goal capped the drive. Ponder made the pass while backpedaling with safety Dashon Goldston in his face at about the 10-yard line. Rudolph started on the right side of the line and crossed through the back of the end zone and caught the ball in the left corner with linebacker Aldon Smith close behind him. A fantastic throw considering the pressure Ponder was facing. A decent call, considering all 11 49ers were in the box expecting Adrian Peterson to get the ball.

The Vikings converted two third downs on the drive. Peterson ran three yards up the middle on third-and-1, and Ponder hit Rudolph for 11 yards on third-and-10 from the San Francisco 18.

The 49ers punted the ball away on its first possession after Chad Greenway sacked Alex Smith on third-and-six from the San Francisco 42. Randy Moss dropped what would have been a first down on second-and-six. He also wasn't on the field for either on of the 49ers' first two third-down situations. And the first one was a four-wide set.

The 49ers made it a 7-3 game when David Akers kicked a 29-yard field goal with 12:13 left in the half. The 49ers went 54 yards in 13 plays, but the drive stopped when the Vikings held on third-and-8. On second-and-8, Moss was wide open for what could have been an 18-yard touchdown, but Smith overthrew him with Chris Cook having lost man coverage on the play. Moss wasn't on the field for the third-and-8 play.

The Vikings took the ensuing kickoff and went 80 yards in 11 plays with Ponder running the final 23 yards to give the Vikings a 14-3 lead with 5:29 left. Ponder dropped back to pass, but saw a lane up the middle and showed quick decision-making by immediately tucking the ball and running. He was being tackled near the goal line, but managed to dive and get the ball just across.

The drive was helped by the fact the Vikings mixed their play-calling up on first down. The 49ers weren't able to stack the line of scrimmage because the Vikings called passes on two first downs, including one that went 14 yards to Devin Aromashodu.

The 49ers lined up for a 43-yard field goal with 1 minute left, but Letroy Guion blocked it.

The Vikings turned the block into a 52-yard field goal by Blair Walsh as time expired in the first half. It was Walsh's third 50-yarder in as many NFL games.

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