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3 things we learned about the Vikings

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MINNEAPOLIS — On the same day he became a father again, Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson celebrated in style, rushing for 126 yards and two touchdowns as the Vikings beat the San Diego Chargers 31-14 on Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium.

Peterson and wife Ashley welcomed their second child, a son they named Axyl, early Sunday morning and the veteran joined his teammates on the field a little more than an hour before game time.

“That right there puts everything in perspective,” Peterson said. “Just having the support of my teammates… that was fun.”

Peterson had the support of his offensive line, who was able to open up big holes despite being down two starters because of injuries. His 2-yard touchdown in the second quarter gave Minnesota a 10-0 lead.

For Peterson, it was his first touchdown since Nov. 24, 2013.

“It felt good to get in the end zone and knock that rust off,” Peterson said. “It would have been nice to get a third one, but it felt good to see my fullback get in there. He works so hard, a touchdown for him means so much.”

After San Diego pulled within three shortly before halftime, the Vikings forced the Chargers into a quick three-and-out to start the second half.

Peterson made the effort worth it.

On the first play after, Peterson took the handoff and raced 43 yards down the right sideline for his second score of the day, putting the Vikings ahead by 10 points.

San Diego never recovered.

“It was rough sledding there at the beginning,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “But usually, if you’re doing (good things) it will catch up with you and he made a couple of nice runs.”

The Vikings added a 1-yard touchdown run from fullback Zach Line later in the third quarter and linebacker Chad Greenway intercepted a deflected pass and rumbled 91 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth as the Vikings opened a 31-7 lead.

Minnesota’s defense sacked Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers four times, intercepted one pass and forced a fumble in the second quarterback that the Vikings turned into a field goal.

What we learned about the Vikings:

1. A Week 1 loss to the San Francisco 49ers was more mirage than trend as the Vikings have come out firing in back-to-back wins since the demoralizing loss at Levi’s Stadium 13 days ago. The biggest reason? Getting their running game going early and often and getting a consistent pass rush from their front four. Peterson topped 100 yards for the second straight week and the Vikings sacked Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers four times and pressured him often. It’s a good recipe for sustained success if Minnesota can continue it. They will receive their stiffest test thus far next week when the Vikings travel to Denver to take on Peyton Manning and the Broncos.

2. The Vikings don’t need quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to have a big game in order to win big. Against the 49ers two weeks ago, the early game plan seemed to center around the second-year quarterback and the Vikings sustained little on offense. But the last two weeks, Bridgewater has played more of a supporting role while Peterson has gone off. Each time, the Vikings have rolled to a big win at home. Minnesota would be wise to continue the trend going forward. On Sunday, Bridgewater accounted for just 121 yards passing, but that’s OK as long as the Vikings keep winning.

3. Speaking of Peterson, he appears to have shaken off the rust after missing all but one game last season because of a suspension. Peterson had a long catch and run last week against the Detroit Lions but seemed to lack that final gear to break free in the open field. On Sunday, Peterson looked to have that gear, breaking loose on a 43-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that was vintage Peterson, who is looking more and more like the old Adrian each week.

Etc.

–DT Justin Trattou was carted from the sideline to the locker room in the first quarter with an ankle injury and did not return. Trattou was seen leaving the stadium in a walking boot after the game and his status for Week 4 is uncertain.

–CB Xavier Rhodes sustained a head injury late in the first half and did not return. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer did not have an update on Rhodes after the game but said he was going through the league’s concussion protocol.

–RB Adrian Peterson rushed 20 times for 126 yards and two touchdowns. For Peterson, it was his first touchdown since Nov. 24, 2013. “It felt good to get in the end zone and knock that rust off,” Peterson said.


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