Blair Walsh boosts Vikings past Jaguars with clutch kick

By Gil Alcaraz IV

In his first NFL game, Minnesota Vikings rookie kicker Blair Walsh was nothing short of amazing.

With the game on the line and early-season momentum at stake, the rookie out of Georgia nailed a 55-yard field goal as time expired to send the game into overtime. A sixth-round pick this past April, Walsh came in and converted in the clutch, stifling the Jacksonville Jaguarshopes of victory in the process.

After the Vikings offense stalled during their ensuing drive, Walsh again lifted the Vikings and gave them the 26-23 lead that would eventually allow them their first notch in the 2012 win column.

Add those two field goals to the two he had already converted earlier in the game – along with two extra points – and Walsh contributed 14 points to the Vikings’ first victory of the year over the Jaguars.

Talk about clutch. Welcome to the NFL, rookie.

The other standout player of the game was running back Adrian Peterson, who some believed wouldn’t even play. Eight and a half months removed from tearing his left ACL and MCL, the All-Pro runner looked just like the Peterson of old.

On 17 carries, Peterson amassed 84 yards, including a long of 20 yards. What really stood out, though, were the two touchdowns that No. 28 scored, again displaying just how phenomenal of an athlete Peterson is to have bounced back from a career-threatening injury and put up such an impressive performance.

Second-year quarterback Christian Ponder also displayed much-needed improvement, bouncing back from a lackluster first quarter to finish with 270 yards on 20 of 27 passing. He looked cool and collected in the pocket and showed the confidence he lacked last year when dropping back.

Several defensive players, including Chad Greenway, Harrison Smith and Antoine Winfield, made big plays for the Vikings’ defense and helped keep the Jaguars from running away with a win. The fact they allowed third-down conversions on 50 percent of the attempts, however, is something that will need to be addressed as the season matures.

Unfortunately for Jared Allen, the Vikings’ elite defensive end failed to notch a sack and is now 2.5 behind Green Bay Packers‘ Clay Matthews in the race to 23. Chris Cook and Erin Henderson were the only two Vikings to notch a sack against the Jaguars.

An exciting game with help from an unexpected source, this first outing helped the Vikings gain some momentum out of the gates. They’re now 1-0 to start the season and have taken the next step in digging themselves out of the hole they found themselves in at the end of 2011.

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