Luck, Indy handle Minnesota defense in victory

Published 8:55 am Monday, December 19, 2016

Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts were left for dead after a deflating home loss to the Houston Texans last week.

Slicing and dicing one of the league’s best defenses on the road breathed some life right back into them.

Luck threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns and the Colts rolled to a 34-6 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

Robert Turbin rushed for two touchdowns, Mike Adams forced a fumble and added an interception for the Colts (7-7).

Frank Gore rushed for 101 yards and Indianapolis won on the road for the fourth time this season in surprisingly easy fashion over the league’s second-ranked defense.

“We understood where we were, that we needed to come out and win and that’s our job as professionals,” Luck said. “It’s a duty to each other and we managed to do that.”

Adrian Peterson had just 22 yards on six carries and lost a fumble in his first game back from a knee injury for the Vikings (7-7).

The Vikings entered the game believing they needed to win the final three games of the season to make the playoffs. Sam Bradford threw for 291 yards with one interception and one lost fumble for Minnesota.

After a critical home loss to Houston last week, the Colts entered the week trailing the Texans and Titans in the AFC South and facing a daunting road matchup against coach Mike Zimmer’s defense.

The Vikings ranked second in the NFL in yards and points allowed and had made star quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Eli Manning and Matthew Stafford look ordinary with their relentless, attacking scheme.

But Luck completed 21 of 28 passes and was barely touched all afternoon, hitting Erik Swoope for a 27-yard touchdown in the second quarter that gave the Colts a 17-0 lead.

The big play seemed to sap some of the Vikings’ spirit on defense, a rarity in Zimmer’s three seasons at the helm.

They showed little fight on Turbin’s second TD run of the game, a pin-balling 6-yard score in which he bounced off two attempted tackles by Everson Griffen and ran through half-hearted attempts from Brian Robison and Captain Munnerlyn that made it 24-0 just before halftime.

“I want to find out who is going to fight,” Zimmer said. “That was not a fighting performance there. They were more physical than us today. They played with more tenacity than we did. That’s usually not how it goes. So we’ll find out.”

Luck capped the day with an easy 50-yard strike to Phillip Dorsett.

“It was hard for us,” Gore said of the Texans defeat. “We know what we got. We put ourselves in a hole. We know when our backs are against the wall, we come back and just show that.”

Peterson’s return

The Vikings’ star running back missed the previous 11 games while recovering from a torn meniscus in his right knee, but was able to return to the field one week sooner than he expected.

His fumble in Colts territory in the second quarter came after his only decent run of the day, a 13-yard burst.

“Disappointment, especially with the fumble at a critical point, down 17 at that time,” Peterson said. “Entering into the red zone and to give up that fumble really killed the momentum. It was rough.”

Gore’s Milestones

Gore had 115 yards from scrimmage to give him 16,332 for his career, surpassing Tony Dorsett for 10th on the NFL’s career list. He also passed John Riggins for 12th on the league’s career carries list.

It was the 33-year-old’s second 100-yard game of the season, and just the third time a Colts running back has topped 100 yards in Luck’s 68 games.

First-half dominance

The Colts never gave the Vikings a chance to get into this one, thoroughly dominating the first two quarters. They outgained Minnesota 281-69, had 21 first downs to the Vikings’ two and held the ball for 23 minutes and 32 seconds to take a 27-0 lead at the half.

Injuries

Colts: LB Chris Carter left the game in the first half with a shoulder injury and did not return.

Vikings: WR Adam Thielen left the game with a neck injury after a big hit from Darius Butler. … FB Zach Line suffered a concussion. … DT Tom Johnson limped off the field in the third quarter with an injured right hamstring.

Up next

Vikings: Minnesota hits the road for the final time this season for a crucial showdown with NFC North rival Green Bay on Saturday. The Vikings beat the Packers in Week 2.