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(Sunday, December 23rd)
Final Score: Minnesota 23, Houston 6
Houston, TX (Sports Network) - The Minnesota Vikings handled the Houston Texans, 23-6, on Sunday to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Adrian Peterson carried the ball 25 times for 86 yards for the Vikings (9-6), who have won three in a row and hold the final wild card spot in the NFC. Peterson has now rushed for 1,898 yards for the season, but his string of eight consecutive games with 100 yards rushing came to an end.
Peterson needs 208 yards to break Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record of 2,105 set in 1984.
Christian Ponder completed 16-of-30 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown for Minnesota, which plays Green Bay next week to end the regular season.
"Obviously it was a great team win for us," Ponder said. "The defense played exceptionally well."
Matt Schaub connected on 18-of-32 passes for 178 yards for the Texans (12-3).
"We got to do better as a group, all around, start to finish. It was lack of execution," Schaub said.
Andre Johnson caught seven passes for 97 yards for Houston, which will square off against the Colts next week in Indianapolis.
The Texans got the ball to start the game and moved the ball to the Minnesota 31. However, Houston's offense stalled there and settled for a 51-yard Shayne Graham field goal.
The Vikings responded with a 78-yard scoring drive that covered eight plays. Kyle Rudolph and Michael Jenkins caught passes of 27 and 32 yards, respectively, to move the ball to the Houston two. Rudolph capped the march with a 3-yard TD catch.
Blair Walsh made a career-long and team record 56-yard field goal with 8:15 left until half to make it 10-3 Minnesota. He set an NFL single-season record with his ninth 50-yard plus field goal.
The Vikings added another field goal before the half. Jarius Wright's 21-yard catch led to a 41-yard Walsh field goal, making it 13-3 with 37 seconds remaining.
Walsh connected on another kick on Minnesota's first possession of the second half. Peterson recorded a 21-yard run on the second play. Wright added a 15- yard catch and a roughing the passer penalty moved the ball to the Houston 22. Walsh made a 39-yard field goal to make it 16-3.
Ponder fumbled while being sacked on the next possession for the Vikings, however, despite taking over at the Minnesota 45, Houston was forced to punt.
The Texans seemed poised to score a touchdown late in the third period. Johnson caught passes of 19 and 14 yards before Kevin Walter hauled in a 12- yard pass. On 3rd-and-goal from the one, Schaub was sacked for a loss of 14 yards. Houston settled for a 33-yard Graham field goal to cut the gap to 16-6 with 26 seconds to go.
Minnesota's Toby Gerhart capped the scoring with a 3-yard rushing touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Walsh broke the league single-season record of eight field goals of 50 yards or more previously shared by Morten Anderson, who made eight for the Atlanta Falcons in 1995, and Jason Hanson, who connected on eight for the Detroit Lions in 2008 ... The Texans went 6-2 at home this season, while the Vikings ended with a 3-5 mark on the road ... Houston running back Arian Foster carried the ball 10 times for 15 yards before leaving with an irregular heartbeat ... Defensive Player of the Year candidate J.J. Watt had one sack and is now two shy of Michael Strahan's single-season record of 22 1/2 in 2001 ... The Vikings racked up 345 yards of total offense, compared to 187 for Houston.
12/23 19:19:47 ET